Trump's Constant Lying Is a Power Game Called "Fuckery," and He's Winning At It
Amy Winehouse, live, 2010
by Gaius Publius
Yes, Virginia, that man said "fuckery." It's a lovely word with a lovely place in hip-hop culture. And it's exactly the word we need to understand Trump's (and really, all Republicans') outrageous lies and shenanigans, and also how to deal with them effectively.
Bottom line: Donald Trump isn't just lying, he's "fucking with us" and challenging us to call him on it. This is exactly the "Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?" problem. And here as there, it's not about the lies; it's a naked show of power. It's about whether one person can impose his will on another person and make him publicly ignore the truth. This interaction is especially true of Trump and the national media, which Trump needs to bring to heel in order to rule for the next four years.
Cheating husband to spouse: "I can make you say you didn't see what you saw. Now, are you going to leave me? Thought not."
Trump to the media: "I can say whatever I want and make you swallow it. I can make you "fact-check" my language instead of laughing in my face for lying straight to yours. Watch me do it ... again."
Fuckery is a power game, and pretending it isn't a power game — pretending its a game about truth instead — is what losers do. Fact-checking someone who's fucking with you is like correcting the grammar on a death threat. Once you do that, once you play the game that way, it's over. Your side just lost.
The Fuckery of Donald Trump
Here's more on Trump and his fuckery from Shawn Hamilton, writing at the Huffington Post (bolded emphasis mine):
The Birth Of F**kery: How To Think About Donald Trump's LiesFuckery is telling a lie so big it messes with the people hearing it — which is its goal.
Yes, [Trump] lies ― constantly, badly and ridiculously ― but the assembled lies create a whole that is greater and more awe-inspiring than the parts....
“Lies” doesn’t quite capture the distance between these statements and truth. Staid, boring, newspaper language has gotten editors tied up in knots. What do you call a lie that causes you to pause and rewind? What do you call a claim that is so patently and verifiably false that you feel insulted for even being expected to debate it? What do you call a sudden shift in position that demands that you ignore both your “lying eyes” and the official record? “Brazen dishonesty” does not quite do it. Neither does saying that he goes “beyond lying.” It’s not even “bullshit,” which is a lie thrown off carelessly, with no power dynamic at play.
Hip-hop has a better word for it: fuckery.
Fuckery is ascendant in our time, and while Trump is not its inventor, he is its most effective practitioner at the moment. The urban dictionary defines fuckery as “absolute bullshit; utter nonsense; something rather suspicious that can bring forth uneasy, angry and irritated feelings.” It’s a lie that is told, not just to achieve an objective, but to demonstrate the power of the person telling the lie relative to those affected by it. Fuckery creates a wall between the person or group telling the lie and the people hearing it. Fuckery throws down a gauntlet: It is too big to ignore, yet so absurd that it promises to debase anybody who grapples with it. It makes a mockery of the very idea of truth.Fuckery isn't just words, it can be deeds as well. And it isn't just part of Trump's domain.
Fuckery & the Constitutional Coup
Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans are "fucking with us" over Obama's Supreme Court nomination: "Consider Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) obstruction of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland. For McConnell and other Republicans to completely block the confirmation process was outrageous. McConnell’s claim that he obstructed so that the “American people have a voice” is ridiculous. But for McConnell to say that the American people won’t tolerate Democrats obstructing Trump while he is currently obstructing Obama is pure fuckery."
I would argue that McConnell's so-called obstruction was fuckery too, a naked power play. As soon as we call it "obstruction" — as the press has constantly done — and not outright theft — which it certainly was — we and the media accept his premise, and thus we lose. We're "fact-checking" instead of making a concerted effort to steal what was stolen. Calling McConnell's theft act an "obstruction" allows it, forgives it, normalizes it, and guarantees it will happen again. The right response is to treat it as a power play and respond with a power play of equal force and magnitude. That didn't happen.
What McConnell did was actually a kind of coup, a constitutional coup, but a coup nonetheless. He used the Constitution to achieve a goal opposite to what the Constitution intends to occur. In the same way, the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore was a constitutional coup as well.
Did anyone in the mainstream or "liberal" press call Bush v. Gore a coup? No, they disbelieved the evidence of their eyes, regardless of what they privately thought, and publicly said they "saw nothing." This is the way fuckery always wins.
So What Do We Do? (How Hip-Hop Treats Fuckery)
Hamilton continues: "Fuckery is a capital offense in hip-hop. Artists, labels and hangers-on get away with all kinds of things they shouldn’t, but there is no spectacle large enough, no “establishment” legitimate enough, and no fan important enough to defend fuckery once it’s been identified." He offers two examples:
An artist that transforms into a gangster overnight like Hammer in 1994 or Ray J in 2011 is mocked and dismissed unless they can provide some extraordinary evidence to support their extraordinary claims.And:
[W]hen Ray Benzino’s group Made Men received an extraordinarily coveted 4.5 mics rating from The Source for their debut album, putting it on par with Biggie Small’s “Ready to Die” and higher than Jay Z’s “Reasonable Doubt,” fans immediately called bullshit. But it was more than bullshit. It was fuckery, because Benzino was known to have close ties to the magazine, which explained why the album received the rating. Fans trusted their “lying eyes” ― or ears ― and The Source’s credibility took a hit. Standards remained high. Made Men was not normalized. And fans that defend wack music are still judged accordingly. We need to take the same approach to voters.What hip-hop culture can do, we can do.
The Source took a hit because it committed a mockable offense ― and was mocked. It was not, however, “fact checked.” That would have given Made Men’s 4.5 mic rating an air of legitimacy.
Believe Your Eyes and Say So: "He's Not Lying, He's Fucking With Us"
Trump is committing a "mockable offense" when he lies as he does, and the media lays down for him, normalizes him, and "ignores their lying eyes" every time they don't treat him as something fundamentally different than everyone else who's held the office he holds.
Not that everyone in that office has been a decent person — very far from it. But Trump and the rest of the Republicans have taken manipulation of the press to a brand new low. He fucks with them to their face and dares them to take it. So far, they do.
After all, do even the mighty hosts of MSNBC call out these lies as "lies," or do they use words like "counter-factual," again and again and again? Do they call out the constant lying as "pathological" — which it certainly is if it's not fuckery? Not in my hearing, but maybe my ears are lying to me too.