Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Glory of Deceit

You know that Paul Ryan went too far last night when even Fox News is calling him out as a liar extraordinaire. He lied blatantly, he lied with a straight face, he lied with abandon. But the crowd roared. The whoppers don't matter. Just look at the expressions on the faces of the Gopper conventioneers. Pure, unadulterated enthusiasm masks their fear and anger. So bring on the mendacity. The Democrats, more circumspect salespeople, are skilled tweakers of the truth, while the Republicans openly brag about their disdain for wimpy facts.

Paul Ryan fans belong to the same hungry subset who elevated the turgid potboiler "Fifty Shades of Grey" into a runaway hit. It's a Harry Potter-like phenonemon for the majority of American adults who are proud non-readers. Both soft S&M and magic, be they financial, social or sexual, always sell, especially during hard times. There are some people who enjoy inflicting pain, and there are even more people who are fooled into thinking they deserve it and can even learn to enjoy it, given half a chance. It's the basis for all religion. Suffer now, go to heaven later. Give up your social safety net now, become a millionaire someday. It's the Rapture, stupid.

 When the prospect of pain is delivered through the persona of a folksy, halfway-decent looking politician or preacher who smiles a lot, there are always true wanna-believers who can be lulled into magically thinking that their own best interests are part of the equation. When the collection plate or the voter ballot is presented to them, they willingly give out of pure faith.

And as our politicians and their spinmeisters are reminding us over and over and over again, these are fine family men. Their wives and children seem to adore them. So we project ourselves onto the stage of non-existent middle class Americana and hope against hope that some day, our own prince will come.


James F Traynor said...

Genghis Khan was a helluva family man too, judging from the genetic markers. He was a big fan of Ryan's latest 'method of conception', rape, but not really rape, since, according to Akins, the rapees must have enjoyed it. It's so peachy keen being a 'conservative' and a Christer.

Denis Neville said...

Romney-Ryan campaign and the endless repetition of the Big Lie.

Big Lies so colossal that who would believe that anyone could have the gall to distort the truth so infamously?

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy.

Their open defiance of fact-checking, “We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." Besides, those fact checks aren’t going to reach the people that really need them. How easy it has been to bypass the checkpoints! The path for more deception has been cleared.

The post-truth reality of culture war politics.

I remember reading William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, telling about the experience of how easily one could be taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state; how surprising and sometimes consternating it was to find that notwithstanding the opportunities one had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions, calculated and incessant propaganda, made a certain impression in one’s mind and often misled it; and how seemingly educated and intelligent people would parrot the outlandish assertions. Shirer wrote about “how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were.”

Now what?

Pearl said...

Denis: You ended your excellent comment regarding William Shirer's
philosophy by stating:

Now what?

I think more than ever, we need these political and religious evangelists
representing the Republican party to get into office and have the light shine on their distortions of the facts. Or at least suffer blame for the continuing consequences of the political fairy tale they represent. Some suffering on the part of their wealthy backers when the inability of their heroes to stop the unfettered capitalist system from imploding will become more and more apparent during the next four years, affecting their life styles, should shake things up.

Remember how all the joy of getting Nixon into office resulted in the outing of him when his lies and distortions came to light at Watergate?

So think about how and whom to vote for this November and where it will take us.

Denis Neville said...

Another excellent commentary by Glenn Greenwald:

“Strong and rational though it may be, the temptation to ignore entirely the election year spectacle should be resisted. Despite its shallow and manipulative qualities – or, more accurately, because of them – this process has some serious repercussions for American political life.”

While “the policies that are most consequential and destructive for lives … are steadfastly ignored because both parties on those matters have exactly the same position and serve the same interests …

“It's where the handful of important issues on which there are genuinely sharp and clear differences – social issues, reproductive rights, jurisprudence philosophy, a few social program and tax policies – are endlessly exploited to heighten cultural divisions and, more importantly, to obscure the similarities on everything else.”

“The election year process could and should be a meaningful opportunity for real political debate … Instead, the process is the ultimate deceit. And the ultimate distraction.”

As Pearl said, we all need to carefully “think about how and whom to vote for this November and where it will take us.”

4Runner said...

Mitt the Mormon Missionary has converted his flock to the Church of Latter Day Liars.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Short column, Karen, relative to your usual, but well said. "When the prospect of pain is delivered through the persona of a folksy, halfway-decent looking politician or preacher who smiles a lot, there are always true wanna-believers who can be lulled into magically thinking that their own best interests are part of the equation." --- Karen Garcia.

That is the essence of the problem.

And while folksy smiling politicians focused on the interests of their patrons and themselves, not the public that they pretend to represent, have existed since time immemorial, it was Ronald Reagan who really perfected it in this country in modern times.

So with the Republican Convention performances we've seen so far and which will continue tonight, this seems an appropriate time to revisit the old Saturday Night Live skit that shows Reagan's smiley folksy friendliness as a front for a cold, calculating, fully deliberate attempt to undermine the American democracy (such as it is).

And great analysis, Denis, from both yourself and William Shirer. The consolidation in recent years of the mainstream print press coupled with general ignorance of history makes people oblivious to the reality that pre-Nazi Germany had a vigorous press, and the Nazi takeover occurred despite that. Nowadays, we may not have a proper mainstream press, but accurate information and analysis are only a few mouse clicks away, yet political diarrhea persists and makes gains, reinforcing the idea that the triumph of the big lie owes much to faulty belief systems and popular ignorance that is willful as much as imposed.

Patricia said...

Yes, but Mitt volunteered his time and energy as a lay person, for The Church of Latter Day Saints, such a paragon of virtue could never tell a lie.

Karen Garcia said...

Here's my response to Paul Krugman's column on Ryan's Mediscare crusade:

Generational conflict between the cohorts is just the technique the GOP has in mind. Such manufactured resentment deflects attention from the class war. It's not Grandma vs. Junior. It's the .01% against the ever-expanding demographic of middle class refugees. The plutocrats won't rest until they extract from us every last penny, every last pound of flesh.

All you have to do is look at the faces of the conventioneers to realize that when an attractive sadist lies, it works. These are the faces of hate, fear, longing, and despair. These are the recruits for fascism, R&R style. These are the cultists who believe that making the downtrodden suffer even more will get them a million in the bank and a special spot in Heaven. It's the Rapture, Preacher Paul Ryan style. He's just a down-home family guy.

Of course, the sane solution would be a truly liberal opposition party (or two or three) with a plank of Medicare for All, an end to the Dept. of Offense, a living wage law, a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trades, prosecutions of banksters and war criminals, a permanent scrap on the FICA tax to ensure the solvency of Social Security for generations to come, protection of labor and organizing rights that are now being destroyed by secretive free trade agreements.

But Citizens United has put democracy on the fast track to extinction. When money corrupts the process, the first casualty is the truth. Paul Ryan is just going with the flow.

Eric Margolis said...

Karen. Instead of having you post comments on the NYT I think they should make you a full time columnist. There has not been a real voice on the left since Frank Rich moved on.

spreadoption said...

I second Eric's motion to have Karen installed as a full-time NYT columnist.

Certainly all of us here would vote for ya, Karen!

Jay - Ottawa said...

I second spreadoption's motion seconding Eric's motion.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Re the Margolis/spreadadoption/Jay-Ottawa suggestion of Karen being hired as a New York Times columnist:

As that old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Karen could certainly do a much better job than the current stable of NYT columnists, but would the corporate media allow her to write there what she currently posts here? I think not. Between editors demanding unassailable proof of assertions and neutering inference, attorneys warning of libel, and upper management wishing to not offend the plutocracy too much, could one say what is needed?

The mainstream media has largely abdicated its proper investigative journalism, opinion, and editorial roles, and I see little evidence that it wants to remedy its deficiencies.

Patricia said...

I also second, and wonder shy she isn't writing for them on a daily basis.

Valerie said...

Count me in as "for" a Karen Garcia column in the Times - She is already a reader recommendation favourite every time she comments. So what is up with the Times? Could it be their corporate ties?