On a Veteran’s Day evening some years ago, Dori organized a family get together to honor our family veterans. Dori called her Uncle David, and we reminisced about Poppi’s WWII service, and also the service of several of Richard’s relatives.
At the end of the evening, Richard asked the gray beard in attendance (me) if the current political climate in the USA was much different than say 50 years ago. I reflected that although politics has always been ugly (e.g. the presidential campaign of 1928), the current style is particularly scary to me. Richard asked why I thought that, and I replied that the media is being manipulated by both sides to do no good, and the power/reach of the media is much greater now than ever before. Richard questioned whether I thought the left POV was manipulating as much as the right, and I replied no, clearly the right is in a league of their own (which is why I abandoned a lifetime of progressive conservative politics some years ago to become an Obamacon in 2008).
Such conceits require more justification than a casual conversation can provide. I’ll try to frame a more comprehensive answer below, in several parts:
- tools and techniques
- causes of alarm
The objective of the political power structure is to win hearts and minds, and then bend them to your purpose. In our democratic form, this means getting them to elect your candidate and to provide you with an apparent mandate for your causes.
The power structure is the main participant, but remains behind the scenes, pulling strings. It is comprised of think tanks, lobbyists, big donors, and the political elite of the party.
The power structure must select the right candidate to deliver its message, and get the candidate through the final vote. This requires an organization: handlers, precinct walkers, investigators, writers, researchers/pollsters, big data analysts, political strategists, media experts, accountants, money solicitors.
It has been shown that a poorly selected candidate will require a larger support organization and more money to elect. Hence, the power structure tries to pick a rock star of a candidate with broad name recognition and populist appeal to the target voter; political experience is overrated. Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jesse Ventura are examples that come to mind from my lifetime. To that list we now add Donald Trump. Curiously, they were all Republican but one, an Independent. The Dems could learn a lesson.
Another advantage of a rock star is that their appeal spans party lines, meaning an instant expansion of base. Compare that with typical party apparatchiks, often having limited appeal even within their own party.
Tools and Techniques
Having a pipeline of rock star candidates groomed and prepared and actively participating in the political arena long in advance of need seems a good tactic. Get them associated with causes you support, and ensure they get a lot of media time. I recall Ronald Reagan came and talked politics to my high school five years before running for Governor of California. We were an audience of future California voters.
Audience preparation is the main technique of a political campaign. Too often the Dems are intellectual, thinking ideas and plans are what the audience will appreciate most. But it is emotions that win elections, and the most powerful emotions are fear and revenge.
To best involve fear and revenge in the equation, a Big-Lie Narrative is constructed. This essentially replaces the older concept of a platform, again too intellectual for the concentration span of a modern audience. A story is much sexier method of presentation than a slideshow.
The story needs to gin up a sense of anger in the audience. Anger being the flip side of fear, the Narrative begins with several threads expressing alarm at bad happenings that will rob them of the things in life they hold dear. This is called the FUD phase, stirring up the audience with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Then one needs to provide a focus for their resulting anger, by identifying some group of the population, or just one’s opponent, as the perp of all the bad things. How beautifully simple.
Accompanying the Narrative will be some audience chants suggesting what the audience would like to do to the perps. This is where the rock star analogy really shines. The mosh pit can be staged with campaign shills who rile up the audience with call-response cues: What are we going to do? Give him a bullet! Deport them!
Another tool in generating FUD is dog-whistle politics, using cue phrases that carry silent meaning to the target audience. These frequently evoke ideas that are too anti-social or immoral to be spoken of aloud. For example, we have had a black family occupying our big White House for two presidential terms. This seldom enters the political conversation explicitly, but is a constant murmur of the leaners, who whisper their anti-social sentiments to one another with a snicker.
It became the single largest policy imperative of the conservative leadership in government to clear the White House of its current occupants. Their dog-whistle phrase is: ‘Make Obama a one term president’. That is normally the goal of the opposing party, so goes unspoken. But by turning it into a mantra, its singular imperative nature in the current environment speaks to its baser motivation, put a white family back in our Big White House.
Cable TV and the Internet provide effective means for disseminating Big Lie Narratives. But how did our ever-more enlightened public regress, becoming sufficiently unsophisticated and gullible in the face of such techniques? Stanford’s Robert Proctor poses an answer: agnotology, a word he coined, derived from the Greek root agnosis. He defines agnotology as “the study of culturally constructed ignorance”. The term originated to describe the practice of cherry-picking scientific evidence to prove any side of an argument. More broadly, it explains that when society doesn’t know something, it’s often because special interests work hard to create confusion, to obfuscate, to weaponize chaos.
Confusion in this new form of Big Lie Narrative emanates from a media disinformation tunnel, a fire hose filled with myriad conflicting and bogus conjectures that drowns out the truth in an river of noise. In politics, agnotology manufactures FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). And even if the noise isn’t successful in persuading, it becomes so confusingly irritating that the listener ceases to care what’s true; objective achieved in either case.
Such disinformation noise tunnels are designed to present what humorist Stephen Colbert coined ‘truthiness’, an illusion created through deliberately false conjectures repeated often enough that they assume a factual character. A large part of the populace now live in tunnels constructed of disinformation, using polarized media outlets to tune in only to that brand of truthiness that simultaneously appeals to their ‘gut’ feelings and creates FUD of the opposition. It is the latest ‘improvement’ on the Big Lie technique.
Colbert reminds us that we have always been entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own set of facts. But under the new rules, perceptions can substitute for facts with self-anointed certainty. We tend to inhabit the disinformation tunnel that offers the set of ‘facts’ that we most want to be true. Then we bask in the certainty we have created.
The escalation of media’s corrosive effect on politics can be seen in polling data. In 1960, it is reported that 5% of Republicans and Democrats equally said they would be displeased if their child married someone of the opposing party. Fifty years later, the polling found half of Republicans and a third of Democrats were so prejudiced. We become increasingly polarized, with political labels now assuming a similar importance to racial labels in our judgement.
As we see in D.C., where the prejudices are even more concentrated, competing Big-Lie Narratives lead to government dysfunction on a scale beyond anything we have experienced. In taking the cheap and sleasy way in political campaigning, the powers behind the Narratives have brought America to its knees. Compromise has come to mean betrayal of one’s essence, rather than a process to reach an mutually-justifiable solution. Does it matter which candidate won, if the process causes everyone to lose?
Examples And Further Discussion
Our mega-scale manipulations of our voting population involves a disinformation propaganda technique. Called the Big Lie, it has been the main crutch of world fascism, big advertising, and now also American-style politics. Regardless of scale, success with such propaganda techniques requires both a susceptible public and a mass media Narrative, a simplified mantra that is chanted over and over until the message is casually accepted as fact, causing moral outrage.
Let’s recall the significance of the fascist Big Lie on world events. The Big Lie was initially promoted in Mein Kampf, after which it was proved in large scale use, bringing the National Socialists to power. The OSS wrote a report during WWII, to define Hitler’s psychological profile. This report identified Hitler’s pragmatic approach to seizing absolute power:
- never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
Sound familiar? Although we buried this original fascist Big Lie (discounting neo-Nazis as a current local nuisance), it has been estimated to have cost upward of 80 million lives, the majority civilian. Unfortunately, a global fascist Big Lie is again evident today, the radical Islamist Narrative demonizing the West and particularly the USA as the great satan. A closed disinformation conduit fuels the Narrative to radicalize the youth. Generations of uneducated and mind-controlled young people have been mobilized by this fascist Narrative to fight the great satan to the death. How costly it will be for the world to defeat this current fascist atrocity remains to be seen. Fortunately, the majority of Muslims are sufficiently enlightened to throw the lie back in the face of the radical front.
In American politics, the Big Lie surfaced in the 1928 presidential election, coincidentally two years after publication of Mein Kampf. Catholic Al Smith, the Democrat nominee, was characterized as an agent of the Pope. Pictures of the Holland Tunnel were purported to be part of Smith’s plan to build a tunnel straight to the Vatican. Protestant ministers across the country warned their flocks that, if elected, Al Smith would dissolve all non-Catholic marriages and declare all children of such marriages illegitimate. The KKK marched through Washington D.C. and burned crosses near Smith’s campaign stops.
The Republican party seems likely to have seeded this popular lie. But just as modern fascist regimes ply their evils through non-state actors, the Republicans shrewdly remained officially above the ugly fray, campaigning on current prosperity and a chicken in every pot. The Big Lie thus seemed to be an ad hoc citizen campaign (those ignorant, bigoted members of more rural protestant churches), spreading rumors by word of mouth, bolstered by the organizational talents of the KKK, our own local brand of fascism. In those days, their estimated 6 million members were a real corrosive power. Al Smith lost in a landslide. (Fortunately, the KKK soon lost in a landslide as well; over 90% of their declared membership evaporated in mid-America over the next decade, ahead of the onrushing WWII).
In modern times with a more educated, enlightened, and connected populace, greater sophistication is required to produce an effective Big Lie, often by baling together many smaller lies to create a monumentally false impression. Advertising agencies were perhaps the incubator of the newer techniques, with the tobacco industry among others footing the R&D budget. Such a propaganda technique was embraced by a Republican administration linked to Big Oil interests, then used to justify our declaring war with Iraq in 2003. This new Big Lie technique next spread to politics, in the form of the ages-old political smear carried to new heights. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, funded principally by the Big Money right, disseminated lies and distortions about John Kerry’s service record that was instrumental in Kerry’s failed 2004 presidential bid. This sleazy affair caused the term ‘swiftboating’ to become a colorful synonym for disinformation with intent to smear.
Basking in the glow of the swiftboating success, American right wing politics graduated from single instance use of noise baths. It now constructs a virtual environment, a noise tunnel, in which to imprison the minds of their dogma-gullible flocks.
In their defense, the media do offer us a way beyond such manufactured ignorance, via their fact checking services. Unfortunately, such services are neither advertised nor readily accessible within the disinformation tunnels. And even if they were, the dogma-driven inhabitants would not choose to use them, for nothing is allowed to disturb their certainty of purpose. Radical Islam also has its disinformation tunnels, not via cable, but through email, web sites, and radical clerics. Once corrupted by the lies, gullible youth frequently go abroad for training, before returning to attempt acts of terrorism on American soil.
Somebody must foot the bill for all the media resources and political wheel greasing needed to maintain the disinformation tunnels. This is where Big Money Corporatism enters the picture. The dogmatic right has their own Major Donors Club dominated by PACs fronting the Koch brothers, the late Bradley brothers, and their ilk. The dogmatic left seems outclassed in this regard, to their credit.
The radical right’s current disinformation tunnel has been in hyper-drive since the nomination of Barack Obama. With that nomination, racism became the unspoken elephant in the room. We began to see this in the campaign posters of Obama with Hitler moustache evoking cries of ‘kill him’ from Palin-hyped audiences. The disinformation consisted initially of various malicious ‘facts’: Obama is a Muslim; Obama is a socialist; Obama was born in Africa; Obama doesn’t believe in God; Obama is a drug addict (“cokehead in chief”); Obama is a terrorist; Obama evidences demonic possession; Obama thinks America is not exceptional. A Narrative was being groomed to project a virulent anti-Obama truthiness, shades of Al Smith.
In spite of the efforts of Big Money Corporatism, the good guy won. The result of the 2008 election was anathema to Big Money, a disaster of Armageddon scale. Since President Obama has been in office, the sole goal of this national right wing Narrative has been to demonize him as the root of all evil and the source of all problems that our country faces. The Narrative seems to have all the characteristics of a really Big Lie. Why pick on Obama? Ask the elephant. The overt and subliminal racist attitudes of the great unwashed who power the anti-campaigns make him an easy target. Because Obama is pro government and pro people and has the strength to cramp the puppet masters’ style, he accomplished what the Republicans had so far been able to stymie, e.g. health care reform. His power is directly responsible for the virulence of the attacks.
I saw an article from two days ago in the Atlantic’s Daily Dish entitled ‘The Big Lie’. In it, the columnist observes how the lies about Obama are being spread across the airwaves, repeated so often that the unsuspecting believe them absolutely. The author takes one example as a case in point, and explores it in depth. The media was fed one lie and it spread like wildfire without critical comment at any point. The example lie is a quote taken out of context which is then spun in a total distortion of what was said. The purpose is to make Obama appear to state that America is not exceptional, when in fact, the central message of his talk was just how exceptional he thinks America is. The media of the rightist disinformation tunnel simply makes stuff up and feeds it to their mesmerized misinformed.
Never before in my memory has a sitting President been subjected to such a determined and systematic effort to villainize. Clinton may claim he had it worse. But not even Clinton’s partisan impeachment by the House compares in corrosive effect to the fear- and anger-driven reactions to the existential threat posed by the black man squatting in our big White House.
Lest one think this is just random zealotry, one only need hear the words of Mr. Big-Money-beholden himself, the Senate minority leader, dedicating himself and the right to a one-term Obama presidency as their singularly most important cause. Never an issue in sight, just the ad hominem of the Narrative. But all is not darkness; the swagger of the new young spawn of the radical right, swept into office in 2010 Republican-dominated mid-terms, provides comic relief for the deteriorating situation.
The radical right’s disinformation is situational, shifting with the needs of the moment. In one of the great defeats for Big Money in recent memory, President Obama got a health care reform bill through Congress. As we should expect, these Big Moneys are really sore losers. Consequently, a major new piece of the right’s disinformation mantra, its new tunnel noise, became destroy ‘Obamacare’, seeking to disembowel this hard fought beginning for universal health care. The radical right spins the Narrative so that it appears that the people are to be losers under the new health plan. But the great squealing sound that accompanies this Narrative shows us it is Big Money itself that is being lanced by the new health plan.
Unfortunately, the Obama health care bill did not do much explicitly to address the real structural cost issues of health care delivery, whose escalation is neither sustainable nor able to be substantiated. The people deserve better than they got. Yet, there is provision for limiting the profits of the middle men, the private health insurers, who are now to be mandated to return 80-85% of premiums to their insured in the form of medical services. And further, marketing and lobbying can not be claimed as a delivered medical service. The squeal is loudest from those in Congress who are on the payroll of the medical insurance industry. There is some hope the new private insurer clamp-down is yet another advancement toward a single-payer health delivery system here: medicare extended to all citizens and legal residents.
The radical red’s tunnel nonsense is sometimes effective enough to tilt the political playing field in the favor of Big Money versus the people (evidence the swiftboat episode, the Scott Brown win of the Ted Kennedy Senate seat, and the newly-red Wisconsin). Hence, it will not end soon, and I expect it will get worse, aided by the Supremes’ recent decision in favor of the Big Money Citizens United that supports unlimited and largely unattributable money floating around political campaigns via PACs. It is discouraging to see that the red Narrative, now fully bankrolled by corporatism, is successfully swaying minds, for this Narrative’s success means an ever increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country. But that’s grist for another mill.
A particularly corrosive Big Money Super PAC is the radical right’s Americans for Tax Reform. Very deep pockets (who choose to remain anonymous, but substitute the names appearing above) fund this lobbying group, whose express purpose is to defeat any Republican politician who supports a tax increase. This self-enforcing group has been effective over its 25 year run in transforming the Republican Party into an ideological abstraction consisting of a single sour note. The current deadlock in Congress is due to the mischief of this PAC. In the troubling times that will befall us as a consequence of deadlock, hopefully more Republicans will see the light, tear up their No Tax Increase pledge, and return to their progressive roots.
What we’re talking about is abuse of power, really BIG money concentrated in the hands of a few who might be well on their way to constituting a shadow government here, the names Murdoch, Koch, Bradley, Scaife, Rockefeller and many more appearing on the founding members list. To achieve this end, they buy the media and the politicians together with the judges they appoint (remember the Citizen’s United vote). We haven’t seen the like in the last hundred years here, and now the sophistication and resources exist to bring them closer than ever to their goals. This is the only conspiracy theory that I give credence to. If it is paranoia, it is fueled by my understanding of human nature and the existence of secret societies of the very rich, from the Bohemian Club to the Bilderberg Group.
I see two parallel corrosive forces at work at the different ends of the power spectrum, both in the street protests of common people and the secret societies of the super rich. Neither the protest movements nor the societies necessarily begin their lives as damaged goods. But both are highly susceptible to being co-opted from their perhaps enlightened original purpose by anti-social forces: radicals, nationalists, social Darwinists, anarchists, and common thugs. And these anti-social forces are likely to manifest at either end of that spectrum.
The big-moneyed sources have been decades in laying the groundwork for their takeover. Gradually, they are emerging from the deep background of reactionary think tanks in order to participate directly in the political process. Realizing that American politics is nothing more than a script with actors, they decided they might as well provide the script. One can sense the fun they are having pulling the strings, how easy it is to manipulate the public, to get their mesmerized followers to come to their tea party. The Monsters have arrived on Maple Street, their name is Money, and they are here to decide things for You. Citizen, take note.
The tea party is the oligarchs’ army of convenience. In a sense, they are a renewal of the klan, the foot soldiers of the fourth reich, but to date without the stunning visuals of burning crosses. Their heartland is the heartland of the last great klan revival of 90 years ago. Their religious fundamentalism and their hatred of minority groups and liberals is from the klan playbook. They are an army of convenience because they are so easy to motivate by slogans that appeal to their need to hate. They consist of white people of all social classes, but the bulk are poor farmers, laborers, returning veterans without jobs, disaffected youth, and the otherwise unemployed. They have in common their whiteness,
Things may not always go so well for right wing Big Money in the future, however. Since they have become more active in pulling local political strings, their cover has been blown and now we are on to them. We see them lurking behind their current popular front faces, the tea party and ‘Americans for Prosperity’ (guess whose?) and Americans For Tax Reform. Scott Brown is reported to have needed Koch money to get elected, but to his credit, he sometimes bites the hand that fed him. Some predict he will lose in 2012 because of this. This chicanery can ultimately come to no good; American democracy, under an educated and watchful populace, ultimately should be bigger than Big Money. Yet this is their day in the sun, and they must be so pleased and amazed at how well they have been playing us.
One observes that a Godfather-style emotional detachment applies to Big Money’s threat: it’s only business. This perhaps explains why Big Money outside of the US (e.g. Murdoch) invests capital in US politics. The fabric of Big Money envelops the globe. In such a scenario, the political actions of Big Money are mostly short term and dedicated to creating markets and profits, and in the process grabbing the people’s assets: oil and gas, minerals, timber, land, water rights, loose change, retirement savings, the air we breathe, the electromagnetic spectrum, our bodies and health, intellectual property, and the like. Their main attack targets would seem to be corporate taxes, personal taxes, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, environment and business regulations, and consumer protections, anything that stands between them and the most efficient achieving of business goals and wealth accumulation. This seems like a pretty large grab, but we may wish that it could be so limited.
True to human nature in the presence of corrupting power, the oligarchs breed an arrogance that allows them to believe they know best how to develop and govern the world; after they’ve taken all our assets, they will hardly need our inputs at all, other than as servants. A global plutocracy is the fantasy dream that ultimately motivates their actions at the emotional level. For them, democracy feels a nuisance, expendable. But rather than making democracy go away, they can have real fun with it, playing puppet master on the grandest of scales. And it is easier to co-opt democracy than to eliminate it. The shadow government is where capitalism shapes its long term global objectives, by taking silent, unseen control of governments. Our failure to keep our eye on the shadow ball heightens the risk our children will be owned by the new global company store. And perhaps they will be the lucky ones, considering the current slippery downward slope of global middle class economic well-being.
Faced with the increasing wealth of the very few, the Democrats fall back on their old arguments of restoring fairness and other pleasantries, putting themselves in a weak position for accomplishing change. A far stronger argument can be made by pointing out the danger to our system of government by concentrating such extreme wealth in the hands of a small group, who now have the means as well as the will to co-opt our government for their own wealth-enhancing purposes.
Perhaps the best change to the Democrat mantra would be to eliminate the word fair from their lexicon. Honesty and transparency can be be more precisely defined than can fairness. Let’s shine a light on the back room boys, challenge the laws they effect to make their corrosive activities legal, thus cutting the strings on the puppet. That would be easier if the majority of Supremes were not also dancing on their strings.
How is the puppet made to dance to the oligarchs tunes? Just ask Jack Abramoff, recently released from a federal penitentiary and now engaged in a tell-all. The oligarchs and their hired guns are simply much smarter than our congressional representatives. With the possible exception of a handful of legislators, we learn that our representatives are bought by lobbyists and paid for by the oligarchs. And to make them more willing to cooperate, extort them, as in Americans for Tax Reform.
We might hope the Abramoff prosecution and its sorry trail of accomplices, linked to the Bush administration, is an extreme case, an outlier that is being corrected. Nah. We should expect the same behavior or worse is ongoing, just not yet outed. Abramoff does soothe his conscience by suggesting a solution to the problem: once congressional staff leave office, they should go home and find an honest job, not hang around Washington to ply their trade as agents of darkness.
We have dwelt here on the forces behind the scenes, the puppet masters, their motivations, their methods, the media levers they pull, their ready army of zealots. But are we saying our political world is 50% blue zealots and 50% red zealots? Of course not. Based on the poll mentioned above, there ids some portion of the populace that still can boast a partially working brain, that would entertain their child marrying across party lines. This portion, our group if you are still with me here, will switch channels occasionally out of curiosity. We are more resistant to the big lie technique. We are more willing to access ‘fact’ checkers. Our future is in our hands. The majority of our group is unfortunately blue.
It’s hard to find a cheerful note to end on, but I enjoyed the Veteran’s Day evening as a time to reflect upon the service of our family members (and to reflect on better times). Put in perspective, this is only more of the ‘same old’, but just scary different enough to get one’s attention. The tunnel masters are after hearts and minds, but failing that, they will settle for a few extra votes. Eventually, one may even hope a few of the zealots will seek to rejoin our middle group, become re-programmed from the brainwashing, discover how truly boring the talking heads are, all droning on in the same gibberish, set aside their zombie ways, and come out of their tunnels to smell the roses once more.
The right wing (Big Money) Narrative excesses continue to impress. A Georgia Representative let go unchallenged a question from a town hall audience “Who’s going to kill Obama?”, which drew laughter and applause. Later, his advisers notified the Secret Service and he issued the usual “I deeply regret and condemn” blah blah blah news release. This same congressman is on record after the 2008 election predicting that Obama would establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship. And this from an ‘educated’ professional (a prime example of the corrosive power of disinformation tunnels).
In Wisconsin, moneyed interests of the Big variety (often spelled Koch, it seems, and in Wisconsin also spelled Bradley) have changed the political landscape dramatically. This has led to questioning who might be behind the state’s new bills regarding disposal of state assets (power plants). It will be interesting to follow the money when any deals are struck. Governor Walker, reportedly financed by the Kochs, was baited into a fake telephone conversation with a David Koch imposter, a record of which may support ethics charges against Walker for soliciting from his government office. Meanwhile, the puppet masters send buses filled with fake counter-protestors to show up opposite the real protestors in Wisconsin. Such protest parodies are carried out anywhere they are needed; the goon buses run night and day.
The good Wisconsinites are now perhaps enlightened regarding what they have accidentally done to their state. Polls now show strong sentiment against the new tea party candidates, and recall petitions are circulating for republican state senate seats. Meanwhile, the puppet masters brought the head-goon, Joe the Plumber, out of retirement to stand before a microphone and label the protest leaders as card-carrying communists. Hope you were paid well, Joe. (Ultimately, most of the recalls were unsuccessful; the oligarchs threw mega-money at the problem and were able to escape accountability).
The conservative author and journalist George Will has detected weird vibrations emanating from the Republican party, evidenced by the early self-selection of 2012 presidential wannabees, these the very same twisted minds who man the megaphones in the dogmatic right’s disinformation tunnel. Paraphrasing Will’s summary judgement, none of this crew should be trusted with so much as a lemonade stand, let alone our nuclear weapons. This is from a former editor of the National Review. But is Will a progressive who supports righting our listing ship of state? Not likely. He sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation and has benefited from Bradley money grants. Apparently, the oligarchs he fronts are not keen on any of this motley crew, which begs the question why they haven’t groomed their own shining star candidate? Perhaps they are so sure of their power to co-opt that they believe any candidate can beat Obama in 2012. That’s a little scary.
More radical right disinformation popped up in April, when an Arizona senator stated on the floor of the Senate that 90% of Planned Parenthood activity is in support of abortion. The actual figure is 3%. Apparently, Kyl didn’t know he was lying. A staffer tried to fix the lie, stating that this was “not intended to be a factual statement.” Now, politicians lie all the time, typically by a form of gross exaggeration known as taunting, tweaking the opposition and strengthening the walls of their tunnel. It’s a nasty habit that masks reality in a veil of innuendo. But foul as it is to be a tunnel constructor, it is much worse to go live in the tunnel yourself. We have a right to expect that our senators know the difference between fact and lie, especially while they are lying. Fortunately, the senator has announced his retirement. Unfortunately, the radical right nominated him for the bi-partisan deficit reduction panel that now stands deadlocked. Did we expect a different outcome?
When Osama bin Laden was taken out on Obama’s watch, the right wing sensed that the 2013 White House would be that much harder to occupy. What to do? Discredit the administration through an ‘alternative’ set of facts. Hence the book ‘SEAL Target Geronimo’, which reached wide distribution through promotion on the right’s disinformation tunnel. Thoroughly discredited by the military, it is doubtful that this book full of misunderstanding and innuendo reached anyone outside the usual tunnel inhabitants.
Prior suggestions by this observer that the puppet masters control some Supremes (e.g. Citizens United ruling) were given further credence when Scalia and Thomas reportedly showed up at a dinner hosted by some of the entities challenging Obamacare. To increase the strangeitude of it all, this happened on the eve of the Supreme Court taking up the Obamacare challenge. This can be characterized by a twist on a popular ad slogan: just buy it. And the scary thing is that there is no longer a need to hide it. The power of agnotology can make a smoking gun disappear.
There is now a recall campaign for the very red Wisconsin governor, one of the red right’s swaggering new spawn. A recent poll estimates well over half the electorate there favors recall, including nearly a quarter of Republicans. The reason is being described as partly a general disappointment that the national polarization has invaded a state that is used to more polite and compassionate discourse. Of course, the radical right is fighting back with TV ads, boosting their political aims. Fair enough. But there are online rumors, spread through the disinformation tunnel of the radical left, that the corps of recall petition gatherers is being infiltrated by goons (hired?) who intend to gather signatures, then dispose of their signed petitions. Still waiting for fact checker to process that one. Realistically, the petition is a long shot in spite of public opinion, because the time is so short and the number of signatures required is so large. Even a little sabotage may be enough to thwart it.
The Congressional Super Committee on Deficit Reduction has failed in its objective. This was a foregone conclusion, since all six Republicans had long ago signed the Pledge of the Americans for Tax Reform. These six were called twice a day to ensure they would maintain a common front. No one of them had the big ones to challenge the ATR agents of coercion. 95% of congressional Republicans have signed away their right to govern. They now vote the way Big Money tells them to, in lock step.
Of the eight professed candidates for the Republican presidential nomination for 2012, only Jon Huntsman Jr. has not been bought/coerced by ATR. Refreshingly, he claims to owe allegiance only to his flag and to his wife. Unfortunately, he seems fundamental anathema to the red right. For in the presence of the Big Lie, his service in the Obama administration must be construed as a merger with the devil rather than an example of effective bi-partisan governance.
By December, there is a new Pew poll showing the beginnings of a backlash to the red right, particularly among their own constituents. Members of the red right are now viewed about as negatively as their blue competitors in their own districts, which I interpret as a natural push back against excess. But the 2012 election still seems the red right’s to lose, given President Obama’s low voter approval samplings; the Big Lie is working. If the right can come up with a charismatic, competent leader with no major flaws, President Obama is likely toast in 2012. Last I looked, the President doesn’t seem too worried though. Apparently, that viable candidate requirement is a very high bar for the red right.
2012 Update: Four more years. The tea party klan used all the mean tricks, but failed to get that black family out of America’s big White House. Happiness is in knowing how much that sticks in their collective craw.
Hello. President Trump. The red right has risen and claimed the prize, Congress and the presidency. How and why? Hillary and the democratic machine and most of the polling models assumed old rules still applied. But the disadvantaged and conservative white voters across the heartland had had enough of stasis and diminishing prosperity. They joined together across all class lines and across gender, and defined a new model.
Had the democratic strategists recognized this trend, they could have fashioned a campaign to convey their acute awareness and sympathy for the situation, and spread blame around as necessary. But not only were they empty-handed in the solution department, they weren’t even aware of the existence this roiling sentiment in the heartland’s middle class.
Further, I found 2016 Hillary a boring campaigner, with stale stump speeches, and little emotional content. Unfortuntely, she is a woman in what is still a man’s world in the precincts where she lost. Many lessions to learn.
And a politicized FBI directer went open loop on her and opened the e-mail pandora’s box as his late October surprise, just long enough to stall all late momentum she had, before abruptly letting her off the hook, milking the main right-wing Big-Lie yet again. But it was all probably moot in light of a poll that learned most voters in the red areas had already made up their minds in September.
Now the quandary is how to explain to our children how such an apparent uncouth and immoral person could be our President. Our polarization keeps getting worse. We await an unaligned rock star to come forward and deliver us from ourselves.