Tag: lying

Romney’s Lying Machine

Robert Reich in his BLOG discusses the overt and oft repeated lies coming from Mitt Romney or his supporters. Reich contends that with all the money the Romney campaign and other dark money organizations are putting behind political ads in the battleground states, the obvious lies are gradually gaining some ground:  people think they’re true no matter how many other outlets demonstrate that they are lies.

This, of course, is the Goebbels contribution to political campaigning:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Reich ends his post by summarizing the question of what kind of man Romney actually is:

So Romney’s lying machine is working.

But what does all this tell us about the man who is running this lying machine? (Or if Romney’s not running it, what does it tell us about a man who would select the people who are?)

We knew he was a cypher — that he’ll say and do whatever is expedient, change positions like a chameleon, eschew any core principles.

Yet resorting to outright lies — and organizing a presidential campaign around a series of lies — reveals a whole new level of cynicism, a profound disdain for what remains of civility in public life, and a disrespect of the democratic process.

The question is whether someone who is willing to resort to such calculated lies, and build a campaign machine around them, can be worthy of the public’s trust with the most powerful office in the world.

Continue reading “Romney’s Lying Machine”

The Big Lie

Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast (Newsweek) writes an excellent and objective evaluation of the current GOP tactics. It’s best read the entire article at The Daily Beast.

The Only Big Idea Coming Out of the Romney-Ryan Camp Is the Big Lie

Michael TomaskyAug 21, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

The addition of Paul Ryan was supposed to infuse the Romney campaign with big ideas that would be argued in big debates with the Democrats, but so far, Michael Tomasky writes, all the GOP campaign has done is grossly distort the truth.

When Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate, we were told we were going to get the Big Debate on the Big Questions we’ve all been waiting for. Well, so far, it isn’t quite working out that way. The distinguishing fact of the Romney-Ryan campaign thus far is the extent to which it is built on outright lies in a desperate attempt to avoid honest debate at all costs. The Romney-Ryan strategy is the farthest thing in the world from a Big Debate. Instead, they muddy the waters as much as possible and lie as much as possible, and hope the press doesn’t call them on it and hope voters buy it.

Romney campaign is still pushing in a new ad. The Romney ad campaign says exactly the opposite of what the new rule stipulates. PolitiFact called the first Romney ad “Pants on Fire,” and Glenn Kessler gave it four Pinocchios. But now here they come with a second ad saying that Obama “ended the work requirement.” Plainly and provably not true.This is not normal. Normal is to stretch the truth. The Obama campaign stretches the truth in trying to connect Romney more directly than it should to Bain-related layoffs that happened after 2002. That’s your basic reach, and the campaign has been called on it. But it’s not a total lie. There is some little grain of truth there, that “Mitt Romney’s company” oversaw such-and-such layoffs, as there usually is in attack ads, even the most vicious ones. The Willie Horton ads were, after all, true. Racist, but true. But the Romney welfare ads have no grain of truth at all. Okay. Just making stuff up about the other guy is bad enough. But it is in terms of past and future positions that what Romney-Ryan are doing really plows new and dishonorable earth. …

So this will be the entire point of the Romney-Ryan campaign. Lie lie lie. Muddy the waters. Turn day to night, fire to water, champagne to piss. Peddle themselves as the precise opposite of what they actually are. That is clearly the m.o.

High on his own hype

Finding a Voice by Ann Davidow (taken from Buzzflash)

Not a day passes that Republicans in Congress or on the campaign trail don’t find some phony premise upon which to attack the administration. It is to be expected that philosophical differences among partisans would elicit contradictory responses aimed at diminishing the clout of political adversaries. But legitimate differences shouldn’t devolve into frivolous bouts of vitriol from pols determined to make a name for themselves by bringing down members of the opposition.

Apparently it has become an acceptable Republican tactic to pounce on opponents with accusations that are more appropriately identified with members of their own party. On last Sunday’s Meet the Press former party leader Ed Gillespie pontificated about the president’s “divisive” ways. Curiously of course the most divisive aspect of our current political framework has been the way the far right chooses to depict President Obama and his policies. The Tea Party, right-wing media and the lock-step House have all been in attack mode from the moment of Obama’s candidacy to the moment of his inauguration. A lightweight like Sarah Palin criticizes the president for things about which she is embarrassingly ignorant, a fact that seems to make little difference to her devoted followers. In fact the country is beset by candidates who are similarly ignorant about the office they seek and the demands their election would make upon them. The presumptive Republican nominee is touted by his supporters as just the person to bring the country back to a solvent, profitable future. But people who tell us we need a business executive to right our economy fail to understand that our government cannot be conducted on some esoteric business principle, a plan that would lead us inevitably down the path we have just traveled to a future of ruthless corporate raiders bent on cementing their fortunes at the expense of regular folks.

The Romney approach is filled with a stunning mix of false hypotheses and outright fabrications which sound somewhat less insidious when they are called “flip-flops.” But we face a candidate who doesn’t have a clue about foreign affairs unless they are corporate-investment schemes – someone who still refers to Russia as “the Soviets” and the Czech Republic as “Czechoslovakia,” a person who says the dopiest things about, for example, the raid that brought down Osama Bin Laden. Of course Romney suggests anyone would have decided to go after him in Pakistan, “even President Carter.” Someone on his team must have told Romney that references to Carter would be a great way to attack Obama, and insisting that he would absolutely have made the same call doesn’t seem to sound as ridiculous to his supporters as it does to others.

Critics on the right have no problem accusing the president of playing politics with the Bin Laden anniversary even as those of us who have a memory and videotape recall how often the Bush White House resorted to 911 recollections for the purpose of enhancing their bona fides. And not to be outdone by the Obama/Osama remembrance Romney and Giuliani marched off to the firehouse where so many firefighters lost their lives on 911 – loaded down with pizza for the fire company – nothing politically artificial about their mission of course.

Difficult as it may be to struggle through the thicket of Romney’s hackneyed assertions it is our patriotic duty to persevere in that effort. Economist Paul Krugman editorializes “…has any major political figure ever premised his entire fiscal platform not just on totally implausible spending projections but on claims that he has a secret plan to raise trillions of dollars in revenue.” Like the Paul Ryan budget Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center refers to as the “mystery meat budget” arcane and secretive proposals fail to deal with the reality of our condition.

Political campaigns should at the very least provide voters with something approaching the truth instead of engaging in jingoistic nonsense and self-serving ego trips. So far Romney has proven himself to be high on his own hype.

I had to quote this piece because it echoes my own thoughts so closely and is so much better expressed.

Fiction, confabulation and lying

You might have noticed in the last two or three days that This American Life has retracted the story exposing all the evil and destructive activities at Foxconn, the manufacturing plant in China that makes Apple products. It’s not that Apple or Foxconn are without blame, but it seems that the writer of the original article fabricated a great deal of his exposé, presumably to make it more immediate and a better story. Yesterday, when the new iPad was being first sold in the Apple Stores, there was a call to boycott those stores based on the poor treatment of workers at Foxconn; but how much of that poor treatment was pure fiction?

This exposure to fabrication as if it was truth is infesting the American way of life. Look at politics where the Republicans are challenging a sitting President that they have fabricated to make themselves look good. I’m sure that someone will point out that the level of mendacity during some historical period was just as bad  as it is now, but there is a huge difference. Today we have video of most of these events and moments and the video does not match the rhetoric. A candidate gets out there and attacks the President for not once doing such-and-such even though there is clear evidence that the President has done such-and-such repeatedly. So today an out-and-out lie in the face of concrete evidence to the contrary is an accepted political tactic.

Then there’s Fox News that is openly biased and still persists in calling themselves Fair and Balanced.

I have for many years held the position that it is all fiction. Even when an author is attempting to write about real events in what is called non-fiction, the author is selecting, arranging, emphasizing, and concluding about real-life events using the same techniques and creating the same results as in fiction. So-called non-fiction is just fiction that is a little closer to what went on in “real life.”

Now we learn that non-fiction is even more fictional than we thought. Through a process called confabulation in psychology, our brains have huge holes in our memory that we automatically fill-in with plausible stories we make up unconsciously. This sounds a lot like creative non-fiction. A lot of the studies in confabulation came from observations of people who, for whatever reason, had the two hemispheres of their brain separated. The thing is, the speech center is only on one side of the brain and the eyes (and hands) communicate with the opposite side of the brain (there is crossover but it can be controlled in the study). So the classic study is to show a man a picture of a naked woman held on the side opposite the speech center and ask him what he sees. The man will say he sees nothing but he will blush. Show him a picture of a tree and ask him what it is; he will not know but ask him to draw what he sees and he will draw a tree.

Studies such as these interrupt the ability of the brain to express a narrative based on observations. However, when the photo or the picture of the tree is moved to the side where speech is controlled, the test subject suddenly expresses an involved story of why he didn’t see it at first (I thought it was my sister and I didn’t want to say anything).

We learned long ago that memories only last a few years and then fade away. So how do you remember things from your childhood? First, you don’t:  what you remember is the last time you remembered or were reminded of the childhood event. Second, you might only remember a snippet of the original event but your brain automatically fills in the missing pieces with a plausible story and you are believe that story until it too fades away and perhaps yet another story is fabricated around the event in you brain.

So look at the persistence of fiction in the lives of human beings. Is it any wonder that political figures openly lie without any concern for the truth. Psychology teaches us that even when we are convinced of the truth, we are actually making up stories to keep the snippets we remember contained in a narrative that seems reasonable to us. People who are convinced that Obama is a muslim terrorist have those facts imprinted on their brains and someone else’s truth isn’t going to dissuade them.

Of course the politicians who continually misrepresent the President are helping to keep the confabulation alive. Lying just works too good to not embrace it, I guess.