Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lies, Liars and Damned Lying Liars' Lies

The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!
- Mark Twain in Eruption

There was a blast of hot, damp air out of the Gulf region last month, threatening to inundate the country in a nightmarish scenario not witnessed since the Bush era.  No, I am not talking about Hurricane Isaac, though the timing was apt (thanks a heap again, Mother Nature!), but about the hellish blasts of white hot lies that erupted out of the Republican convention in Tampa.

Mark Twain is quoted as having said that "A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." and it seems that the Republican party has set out to prove that assertion.

Does the truth even matter at all anymore to Republicans? Have they, finally, noticed that their base will not only vote against their own interests - sometimes with disastrous results for themselves, their families and their communities - but will even vote against their own consciences and against the very values that they purport to hold? So-called "values voters" talk a lot about Truth™, yet the easily verifiable lies of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their surrogates simply do not seem to faze them.

In fact, they loved it. In spite of the constant and prominent references to God and the ubiquitous displays of religiosity, the delegates for God's Own Party seemed undisturbed by the steady stream of lies erupting out of the mouths of speaker after speaker, culminating in an almost wall-to-wall speech of lies and misrepresentation from the party princeling - and apparently habitual liar - Paul Ryan. Yet, perhaps this smug acceptance of what amounted to a probably record-breaking level of unprincipled dishonesty was not in spite of Christian morality at all...

What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them. (Martin Luther)

What exactly are the values of these voters? How do these people get away with claiming the higher moral ground? Why isn't the media challenging the tiresome narrative that these so-called "values voters" are somehow above questions about their motives and methods?

Maybe these articles can give us a little insight:

Greer notes that July brought multiple cases of huge corporate fines for cheating. The largest was $3 billion to be paid by GlaxoSmithKline, the huge British pharmaceutical firm, both for hawking antidepressants for unapproved uses and for not reporting safety data involving a big-selling diabetes drug. It also conceded that it wrongly marketed other drugs.
Did you know that? Do you care? Imagine, a $3 billion fine for cheating and risking lives -- and it's just another one- or two-line bulletin on our smart phones, quickly forgotten by most. (from  Fact-Checking Campaign Lies: Does Anybody Give A Damn?)

No member of Congress is farther to the right than Paul Ryan. He's an acolyte of the ideologue Ayn Rand, but the media, having done its obligatory story on her noxious philosophy, is perfectly content to use Ryan's recent brushoff of her influence on him as an excuse to drop the story. The vaunted Ryan budget is actually a roadmap for eliminating the safety net that has defined the American social contract since the 1930s, but explaining this takes time, which risks audience share, and in the face of a barrage of ads portraying him as the savior of seniors, it takes the kind of persistence that news executives fear hurts ratings. He is a hypocrite of the first order, a deficit hawk who voted to increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars and whose tax plan is demonstrably fraudulent, but hey, how 'bout the six-pack on that dreamboat? (from Romney/Ryan and the Lullaby of Lying, Marty Kaplan, Huffington Post, August 30, 2012.)

But as satisfying as the McLuhan moments are for partisans and reporters, this stuff actually doesn’t matter that much in terms of winning or losing a presidential election. The small number of undecided voters in tossup states who’ll actually decide this thing really don’t care whether Mitt Romney misrepresented a popular scientist’s thesis. The voters committed to Romney won’t have their faith shaken by the revelation that (pointy-headed) economists think his tax plan is based on misreading of their work. Mitt Romney's many "Annie Hall" moments, Alex Pareene, Salon, August 9, 2012.

So even the studies that the Romney campaign’s economists handpicked to bolster their case don’t prove what the Romney campaign says they prove. And some of the key policy recommendations that flow from those studies are anathema to the Romney campaign. And in perhaps the key policy area highlighted by these studies, the Romney campaign doesn’t have a formal policy. If this is the best they can do in support of their economic plan, well, it’s not likely to quiet the critics. Economists to Romney Campaign: That's Not What Our Research Says, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, August 8, 2012.

This really is a post-truth campaign. It's different. It's one thing to be nasty. All campaigns are nasty. It's one thing to twist and distort and mock. Every campaign does that too. Even the attacks on Al Gore in 2000, as vicious as they were, were mostly media inventions. The Republican campaigns had the distortions handed to them on a platter.
But this is different. This is a presidential candidate just baldly making stuff up on the assumption that nobody will ever know. After all, they figure, who the hell reads Glenn Kessler aside from a bunch of Beltway nerds? And I guess they're right.  Mitt Romney Sure Does Lie A Lot, Doesn't He? Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, August 9, 2012.

For a rundown of just this week's catalogue of lies, check out:  Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XXXV*, Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 21, 2012.

16. On federal spending, Romney said, "[M]y test is this: is the program so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese, but this isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.

17. Romney added, "The president has put us on the road to Greece."
That's painfully untrue.

18. Romney also argued, "No wonder business start-ups are at a 30-year low."
This still isn't true.

Or, you can just laugh about the (mostly)unchallenged lying (so you won't cry):

In his speech to the Republican National Convention last night, Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan test-drove what the Romney-Ryan campaign says will be a major theme for the 2012 Republican campaign: “lying about everything.”
“The question was, how many whoppers could you pack into one speech?” the campaign adviser Tracy Klugian said. “All I can say is, when Fox News accuses a Republican of lying, you know you’ve witnessed something historic.” (from Paul Ryan Launches Campaign Theme of Lying About Everything, Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, August 30, 2012.)

*Yes, that is the thirty-fifth (35th) installment of Mitt's Mendacity. Willard tells enough whoppers each week to keep bloggers very busy!

Two "stand-up" guys:  "Let others lie, wantonly, gratuitously, if they will,
but let you & me make it the rule of our life to lie for revenue only." (Mark Twain)