Monday, November 09, 2015

The Republican Party Base Rewards The Most Outrageous And Blatant Lies From Their Crackpot Candidates


I don't think anyone expects Donald Trump to ever say anything that's objectively true. When PolitiFact looked into 58 controversial statements he made during the last debate, not even ONE proved to be true (although 15 of the 58 were "mostly true" or "half true"). The rest were lies, including 10 that were such insane whoppers that PolitiFact rated them "Pants on Fire." Carson didn't say as much but none of his fact checked statements turned out to be true either! PolitiFact caught Fiorina, Rubio, Jeb and Cruz lying as well. Some of them-- Rubio, Christie and Jeb, particularly-- lie strategically and someone of them lie because they have created alternative universes they fall apart without a web of interconnected falsehoods. Fiorina and Trump were exposed early on in the process as inveterate liars who were much more likely to say something false than something true. And Carson... off the charts-- perhaps more flat-out insane than a manipulator like Cruz or Rubio, and someone with a dangerous world-view based on sheer nonsense that he accepts as fact. Carson, for one, lives in a world where it is not possible to distinguish between reality and fantasy-- a potentially volatile Pants on Fire world, where Mahmoud Abbas, Ali Khamenei and Vladimir Putin started plotting against America in 1968.
Every once in a while, religion will derange an otherwise intelligent individual in such a way as to leave no doubt that theistic faith – the fanatical conviction, based on no evidence whatsoever, that certain all-encompassing supernatural assertions about our species and universe are true – is a malady that needs to be cured immediately, lest the patient, already floundering in a self-induced state of unreality, cross into a gaga land of total psychotic delusion and do himself or others real harm (which includes educating children in said faith).

To wit: The recent, faith-related babblings of Republican 2016 front-runner Dr. Ben Carson show him to be hovering on the brink, and in need of a rationalist intervention, and fast, possibly with the aid of state-of-the-art neuroleptics. They should be provoking outrage, not the least because the reporter who solicited them did so for a major news outlet, AP, without asking a single question about the bizarreries of the Seventh-day Adventist cult to which Carson belongs or challenging him on the outlandishly false statements he so effortlessly emitted.
What's dangerous, though, is that the fabric of lies aren't just biographical like Rubio's, Fiorina's, Trump's and Carson's. Sure, Carson is pathological and made up a whole chapter of his life involving West Point and General Westmoreland that never existed and Rubio has been passing himself off as the son of anti-Castro refugees for his whole career (while lying about stealing money from the Florida Republican Party for luxury stays in Vegas casinos and back waxing sessions)... but it's when their fabric of lies come into the policy arena that Americans need to snap to and write these clowns off. I mean does it really matter that Rubio lies about his personal finances, when the policy agenda he's proposing-- built on a tissue of lies meant to grant immense tax cuts to the already woefully under-taxed 1% begin with-- would wreck all of our personal finances? Here's on lie Dr. Ben can't evade responsibility for by blaming his ghost writer:

Yesterday David Weigel looked at why older Republican voters-- but not older normal people-- are so easily scammed by snake oil hucksters like Carson and Huckabee and how that's become a very lucrative business model on the far right fringe of society.

Greg Sargent, writing for the New Republic pointed out over the weekend that when Republicans lie about Climate Change, they are actually endangering our existence as a species. "The Republican Party," he wrote, "could be the single greatest impediment to global efforts to slow climate change."
On stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in mid-September, two-plus hours into the second GOP presidential debate, the candidates were shifting under the glare of the klieg lights as moderator Jake Tapper began grilling Senator Marco Rubio about one of the Republicans’ least favorite topics: climate change. When evidence mounted in the 1980s that the ozone layer was shrinking, the CNN anchor noted, “Ronald Reagan urged skeptics in industry to come up with a plan … and his approach worked.” So why not “approach climate change the Reagan way?”

It was fitting that Rubio, who is working harder than any candidate to present himself as the party’s face of the future, was the one who had to field the question. Forward-thinking people, as the senator from Florida knows very well, do not deny science. But at the same time, as Rubio also knows, Republicans in search of conservative votes have long felt compelled to do just that.

So he glared down at Tapper and attempted a dodge, firing back: “Because we’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do.” Rubio, clearly well-drilled to answer the question, went on: “We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather.”

Other Republican candidates have taken a slightly different tack on climate: Yes, conservatives should accept the science, but they should be wary of drawing hard conclusions from it. Jeb Bush, for one, admits that “the climate is changing,” and says conservatives should “embrace science”-- but adds that claiming the science on climate is “decided” is “really arrogant.”

None of these rhetorical acrobatics will surprise anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the Republican Party’s approach to one of the defining challenges of the twenty-first century. Faced with the inconvenient scientific consensus that the only planet in the solar system known to be fit for human habitation is getting hotter, and may soon be doing so irreversibly, the GOP-- one of the two major parties that govern the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases-- has for years responded by developing a complex, shifting series of denial mechanisms that preclude any serious participation in the debate over solutions.

These denial devices have become so sophisticated and all-pervasive that a whole journalistic subgenre-- a species of climate cryptology-- has sprung up to ponder and interpret their inner workings. Lately, the cryptologists have been detecting subtle signs of a GOP evolution on climate. While it’s long been standard for Republican candidates to question, evade, or reject climate science, GOP candidates in last year’s midterm elections began routinely responding to climate questions by throwing up their hands and repeating some variation of, “I’m not a scientist.” More recently, some GOP officials and presidential candidates have taken to acknowledging global warming while insisting that the private sector-- not Big Bad Government-- must solve it. It’s a step forward, if only a baby step.
NY Times reporter Michael Barbaro was also trying to figure out the reasons for the lies our current crop of politicians are telling us and he's come to the conclusion that "it may not matter. In the 2016 presidential campaign, the truth is starting to look deeply out of fashion."
The presidential campaign is still in its early and unsettled stages, and many subplots are still to unfold. But so far, the old and powerful structure of the venerable news media as a gatekeeper, seizing on the candidates for any untruth and deeply wounding them in the process, seems to be crumbling, replaced by a more chaotic environment.

Deep disregard for the news media has allowed candidates to duck, dodge and ridicule assertions from outlets they dislike and seek the embrace of those that are inclined to protect them.

Today, it seems, truth is in the eyes of the beholder-- and any assertion can be elevated and amplified if yelled loudly enough.

When a moderator in the last Republican debate tried to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his campaign’s description of Mr. Rubio as the personal senator of Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Trump simply denied it, volubly, over and over.

“I never said that. I never said that,” he declared to the moderator, Becky Quick of CNBC.

Ms. Quick tried to clarify the matter. “So this was an erroneous article the whole way around?” she asked.

Mr. Trump dubiously accused the news media of doing “bad fact-checking,” eliciting an apology from Ms. Quick.

After the debate, amid intense mockery from the candidates, it was CNBC and Ms. Quick who were derided. Mr. Trump never answered for his campaign’s description of Mr. Rubio, and paid no price for denying it.

In many ways, Mr. Trump has set the tone for the embroidery: His grandiose and sweeping claims have generated an entirely new category of overstatement in American politics. Several of his statements are so outlandish that they cannot even be disproved. Mexico, he assures voters, will pay for the giant wall he will erect along the border. Deporting millions of illegal immigrants will be simple, he explains. He can correct a trade imbalance with China, he says, because “I beat China all the time.”

Mr. Trump, to be sure, utters plenty of refutable claims. (PolitiFact has rated 40 percent of his statements “false.”) To buttress his argument that America has a “stupid” immigration system, he has asserted, repeatedly, that Mexico does not grant citizenship to those born on its soil, as America does.

That is false. Mexico, in fact, has a form of birthright citizenship.

...Give no ground, political strategists frequently counsel their candidates in today’s new arena of fact-twisting.

When journalists pressed Mrs. Fiorina on her description of an undercover video released by opponents of abortion, she stuck with her original wording about “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

Media fact-checkers have roundly disputed this account. Yet a few days later, when Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, asked Mrs. Fiorina to acknowledge “that you exaggerated this scene,” she refused.

The candidates complain about a news media fixated on “gotcha” questions and spotting small factual errors that can occur when fatigued candidates, traveling nonstop, slip up. But patterns tend to emerge over time, not in a single moment.
Other than Trump, the Republican candidates hoping for Carson to disappear, are wary of attacking him for his... quirks. "Numerous 2016 operatives said their candidates would be hands-off when it comes to questioning Carson’s resume and his claims of having received a 'full scholarship' to West Point when he never applied or was admitted to the military academy. 'All a candidate would be doing is engendering ill will among people who like Ben Carson,' a top operative for a second campaign said. 'That’s why I’m not on the record right now.'... Carson has soared to the top of the Republican presidential heap largely on the strength of his personal story and appeal. His story, as told in his own best-selling books and even a TV drama, is one of a young African-American from hardscrabble Detroit whose faith allowed him to become one of the world’s most celebrated brain surgeons. It has been a breakout hit on the campaign trail, particularly among evangelical voters. Carson has consistently scored the among highest favorability ratings of all Republicans, with an 82 percent favorable rating among GOP voters in a Quinnipiac poll this month. He was ranked the most 'honest and trustworthy' candidate among all voters; a remarkable 91 percent of Republicans called him 'honest and trustworthy.' Now operatives believe that reservoir of support is at risk. 'When your whole campaign is built around cult of personality and a portion of that message is proven not to be true, everything else becomes suspect,' said the senior Republican strategist." And it isn't "the liberal media" pushing a made-up story-- as much as Carsonistas say it is. Yesterday Rupert Murdoch's right-wing Wall Street Journal was raising the most intense questions about Carson's integrity and suitability for office. "Carson’s biography," Reid Epstein wrote, "a rise from poverty to become a top neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, is central to his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Now, his story-- told in nine books and countless inspirational speeches over the past 25 years-- has come under the harsh scrutiny of presidential politics, where rivals and media hunt for embellishments and omissions that can hobble a campaign... The threat to the Carson candidacy is that the inconsistencies or hard-to-check anecdotes, which were told long before he ever considered a presidential run, will put off voters only now getting to know him."

Bernie may be enjoying all this insanity less than most of us-- he is, after all, trying to run a serious policy-centric campaign-- and on Meet the Press yesterday he indicated that by focusing on the personal and biographical details of all the lies these Republicans can't help but spout, sight is being lost of the danger they present in terms of governance and policy agendas. It's worth watching-- and worth contributing to Bernie's campaign afterwards as well.

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At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernie, where the hell have you been? The "serious" "mainstream" "responsible" media would rather put hot needles in their eyes than discuss the facts about policy, much less their implications for average citizens. Been true since the Reagan Administration. The only reason they piled on Ben Carson, and then only about personal shit, is that he was foolish enough to admit to an ... uh … error of fact. If he had just brazened it out like every other Republican and lots of Democrats, any discussions of fact would have been confined to the Factchecker pages of the few newspapers that have such.


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