首页  | 专栏作家

Laugh test? 第一关都通不过

中国日报网 2021-06-15 17:57


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, with “laugh test” in particular: Their claim does not meet the laugh test, let alone scientific rigor.

My comments:

Their claim, whatever that is, does not pass the laugh test, not to mention rigorous scientific examination.

What “does not meet the laugh test” actually implies here is that their claim is so wrong, unreasonable and outlandish that it is laughable.

It will get laughed at, in other words.

That’s the message being conveyed here.

The “laugh test” is an idiom because there’s no literal laugh test being taken. When people say something doesn’t meet or pass the laugh test, it’s about the same as saying something does not meet or pass the smell test.

Smell test?

Yeah, the smell test means something is easily detectable, such as, say, the stink of dead fish. You can smell it from a mile away. We can, for example, smell the odor of a fish market from a block away. So, if you want to hide the fact that you’re a fish vendor but you smell fish from head to toe, well, you don’t pass the smell test, literally.

Metaphorically speaking, if something doesn’t meet or pass the smell test, it means it’s easily refutable. It’s proven false and wrong easily. It must be very illogical and unreasonable.

In the same way, if something doesn’t meet or pass the laugh test, then it’s so irrational and nonsensical that it will probably be laughed at by anyone who hears it.

Also, giggle test – presumably it won’t stop women from giggling and others from laughing and sniggering.

And not because it’s funny, but because it’s unreasonable.

All right, here are media examples of things that don’t meet or pass the laugh test:

1. None of the visas issued by a fake U.S. embassy that operated abroad for almost a decade were used to enter the U.S., the Department of State claimed Monday.

After nearly 10 years in business, a fake U.S. embassy in Accra, Ghana, was shut down this past summer, the State Department revealed last month in a press release.

The Department reportedly discovered the operation earlier this year through an informant.

“This was a criminal fraud operation masquerading as a U.S. embassy,” Department of State Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner explained during the daily press briefing Monday.

An organized crime gang consisting of Turks and Ghanaians ran the embassy for years.

They flew the American flag outside the “embassy” every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 7:30 a.m. until noon, hung up a portrait of President Barack Obama, and issued counterfeit documents for the price of $6,000. The operation used several expired visas in foreign passports to produce counterfeit visas.

The fake embassy was brought down as part of a broader operation known as “Operation Spartan Vanguard.”

Toner said that the fake embassy operation ultimately failed. “It’s very, very hard to counterfeit a visa these days,” he explained.

Real visas are highly secure documents that are very difficult to duplicate.

“To our knowledge, no visa obtained through this operation was used to enter the U.S.,” Toner remarked.

“The visas were pretty poor quality,” he said. Toner noted that the poor quality of the visas is probably what deterred people from attempting to enter the U.S. with a fake visa.

Toner’s response did not sit well with one reporter present at the briefing.

“You don’t believe that anyone ever tried to use any of these … that these people who didn’t have the perceptive qualities to realize they were walking into a fake U.S. embassy and then paid that fake U.S. embassy were then able to discern on their own that the visas didn’t look good enough, and so they decided not to try … that just seems so wholly unrealistic, it cannot be possible in this universe for that to be true,” the reporter said.

Mark, that doesn’t pass the laugh test,” he added.

Toner replied that border officials had never encountered one of the counterfeit visas.

The reporter commented that just because the State Department never detected a fake visa does not mean that no one used one to enter the U.S.

In response to pressure from reporters, Toner acknowledged the possibility that some individuals may have gotten through. The Department of State is not currently aware of any such situations; however, it is “still going through some assessment on this operation.”

- ‘Doesn’t Pass The Laugh Test’: State Dept Claims No One Used ‘Sham’ Visas From Fake Embassy, DailyCaller.com, December 05, 2016.


2. Legally speaking, President Donald Trump’s various election lawsuits amount to nothing.

On Wednesday the Trump campaign announced an array of different legal efforts to fight Joe Biden’s apparently impending Electoral College victory.

This included attempts to stop the vote counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and a motion to be heard by the Supreme Court in the case about ballots that arrived or will arrive in Pennsylvania after 8 p.m. on Election Day. The campaign also filed a lawsuit in Georgia claiming a poll worker improperly mixed up absentee ballots, and asked for late-arriving ballots to be segregated. Although Georgia is close, this isn’t the stuff of which election-changing lawsuits are made. (Trump’s lawyers also say they will seek a recount in Wisconsin; but that is extremely unlikely to erase Biden’s roughly 20,000 vote margin there.)

Start with the attempts to stop the counting. These are legally vacuous and don’t pass the laugh test. Trump’s Michigan filing asks the state courts to stop tallying votes, alleging that the state’s absentee vote counters are proceeding without the presence of election inspectors and vote “challengers” from each party, as Michigan law requires. The problem with this argument is that, as far as is possible to determine, Michigan is indeed allowing Democratic and Republican inspectors and challengers.

So the Trump campaign is further arguing that the state violated the law because it has not shown the Trump “challengers” the video of the drop-off boxes from which the absentee ballots are being taken. Strange as it sounds, the Trump campaign seems to be arguing that the counting of votes should be stopped because his representatives haven’t been able to see video of the drop-off boxes.

Michigan law does seem to say that “ballot containers” should be surveilled by video. But there doesn’t seem to be anything in the law requiring the campaigns to see the video of drop-off boxes. In any case, it would make no sense whatever for courts to order the counting to stop as a remedy for any failure to provide required video. The logical thing would be for the court to order the state to provide the video.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Trump campaign is desperately trying to stop Michigan from finishing its count. Trump is behind in the Michigan count, so the plan can’t be to claim victory on the basis of votes already counted. It must be to escape the potential conclusion that Biden has won the election if he wins Michigan and a handful of other states.

- Trump’s Election Lawsuits Are Legally Hollow, Yahoo.com, November 5, 2020.


3. Last Friday I wrote about how the Democrats plan to spend the month of June deliberately failing to pass their legislative agenda in order to demonstrate how intransigent the GOP is being with their use of the filibuster. It is reminiscent of the House plan to pass “messaging bills” in the last congress as a way of illustrating that the Senate was blocking popular legislation.

How’d that work out?

Judging from the comments from various Democrats in this article, many in the party remain convinced that if they can show how obstructionist the Republicans are being, they can persuade the filibuster clingers in their own caucus to support some reforms that would allow the party to actually fulfill its promises. The fatal flaw in that logic is that it assumes the Democrats even have 50 votes for such a simple agenda. They, of course, do not.

This weekend, Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, threw another bucket of ice cold water on that cunning plan with an op-ed in his local newspaper announcing that he would not vote for the big voting rights bill, the For the People Act, and reiterating his pledge that he will never vote to weaken or end the filibuster. It’s tempting to try to parse the word “weaken” to mean something other than “reform” but it’s getting a little bit ridiculous at this point. It’s pretty clear that Manchin will not touch the filibuster. And while he claims to support the less comprehensive “John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act,” he also made it very clear that he believes it must be bipartisan enough to pass a 60-vote majority threshold. He seems to think there will be some Republicans on board with such legislation —which is highly unlikely — but even if there are there will not be 10, which means they will filibuster and we are back to where we started.

A few months back I wondered if Manchin wanted to be remembered as the Strom Thurmond of his time. Apparently he does.

In his new op-ed, Manchin wrote that Democrats “conveniently ignore how [the filibuster] has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.” It’s true. It did protect the rights of white racist Southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond. Today's Democrats aren’t conveniently ignoring that, however. He is.

Fox News host Chris Wallace grilled Manchin on Fox News Sunday and asked him why, if he really wants bipartisanship, he doesn’t keep alive the possibility that he might vote to bust the filibuster, giving the GOP incentive to actually negotiate. He asked, “by taking it off the table, haven’t you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists?” Manchin went into a song and dance about how he knows there are 6 or 7 good Republicans who want to work on a bipartisan basis —neglecting to acknowledge that without 10, the GOP will still successfully filibuster every last bill.

At this point it’s more than fair to assume that the Koch-funded efforts to pressure Manchin to oppose the For The People Act and protect the filibuster at all costs have paid off. His clumsy, illogical, fatuous rationale doesn’t pass the laugh test.

So what does all this add up to?

- Democrats don’t have to let Manchin win: Holding Trump accountable is fulfilling the Biden agenda, by Heather Digby Parton, Salon.com, June 7, 2021.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


Playing the long game? 从长计议


Glacial pace? 龟速


Chew the fat? 闲聊


Identity politics? 身份政治


Reality check? 现实核查

中国日报网 英语点津微信
中国日报网 双语小程序