GOING BIG

As their total inability to govern in anything but a cyclone that leaves a trail of destruction in its wake becomes increasingly obvious, the White House and congressional Republicans are engaging in a strategy that can be described as, if nothing else, "bold." They're lying. They've always lied a lot, but they've progressed to lying big, to lying in ways that do not even have a definable reference point in reality.

The sad thing is, were I paid to advise them I would recommend doing exactly that.

The hardcore Trump base has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will accept the things he says as the gospel truth. Hell, they accept staggeringly ludicrous things they find in internet comment sections as the truth so long as it tells them something they're inclined to believe. Liberals and the media, in contrast, point out the lies and let loose with streams of invective. And it must be dawning on Trump that these reactions are not affected by the magnitude of the lie. And if you're going to expose yourself to the risk that lying might cost you something in terms of political capital, you might as well lie big. Real big.

That whole "bring back coal" bullshit isn't working out? Whatever – just say you made up 50,000 coal jobs even though that's more people than the entire coal industry employs. Republicans can't pass a bill to save their souls? Just say it's the Democrats' fault (it doesn't have to make any sense). Caught in a web of lies with unseemly Russian operatives? It was…uh, a Clinton-Obama setup! Health care bill is an embarrassing flop? Hell, just assume your idiot supporters don't know who controls the Senate and blame it on the Democrats.

These aren't the standard political lies that rely on stretching the truth, cherry picking the data, fudging interpretations of events in creative ways, or offering partial truth in place of the whole thing. This is fantasy stuff. This is stuff made up out of thin air. We're accustomed to things like the Bush administration relying on an extremely selective reading of dubious information to justify the Iraq War, or elected officials lying about personal sex scandals as long as they believe they can get away with it. We don't have experience, though, with Russian-style "Make up your own reality" lying, at least not from the White House and not on this scale.

The sad fact, again, is that this makes perfect sense strategically. If your base will believe literally anything as long as you say it, there's really no incentive to hold back.

This new political reality in which there are no consequences for lying as blatantly and boldly as shame will allow is not going to turn out well. Good things will never come of this. The discomforting question, though, is what anyone can do about it at this point. It is already here.

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28 Responses to “GOING BIG”

  1. wetcasements Says:

    Which is why going after so-called "working class" voters (i.e., white males) is a bullshit path to nowhere. Trump won largely due to racial resentment (remember the yells of "n*gger" and "Jew" at his rallies? I do!) and much less because of economic inequality (which was a factor, but not the biggest one).

    As Dems we live or die by mobilizing our own base, period. Running to the center / right to chase the mythical unicorn of "real" (i.e., white) Americans is a waste of time, money, and effort. If already in the FOX News bubble, no amount of reasonable / factual discourse is going to change your mind.

  2. Mike Furlan Says:

    While I find Trump and his lies vile. He has not yet duplicated the Bush level of crime. The "incubator babies Iraqi story" used to sell Gulf War One and the WMD scam that justified Gulf War Two were far worse and much more consequential.

  3. c u n d gulag Says:

    I seem to recall from history – and yes, I know how much of a snooty coastal elitist I sound like in this day and age, by claiming I have any concept of history – that this "Big Lie" theory was experimented with, and put in practice, by a nation in the middle of Europe during the early-middle part of the 20th Century, by a funny-looking leader with a funny-looking mustache – but who, himelf, was decidedly NOT AT ALL FUCKING FUNNY!!!

    As I recall though, it didn't end well.
    Oh, it ended, alright! It ended the lives of about 50 – 80 million people world wide.
    But trying out "The Big Lie" didn't work out well at all for…
    Hmm…
    The name of the country escapes me right no…
    GERMANY!
    Yeah, dat's it!

    Yeah.
    Basically, that country was completely leveled.
    As was another 'big-lyin" nation: Japan.

    Of course, they're both doing better than our country, right now!

    But that's because we Americans had some smart, wise, and prescient leaders who had other priorities than giving already very rich Americans some very large tax cuts!

    Instead, as OUR new leader, we Americans have a clueless, stupid, ignorant, bigoted, narcissistic, immature, demagogic mountain of rotting orange-colored smegma (quite a lot of work collecting all of that smegma from a man with such "tiny hands")!

    Ok, enough for one night!
    On that last disgusting note, after I puke at the thought of what I just wrote, I'll try to go back to sleep.

    This t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin induced/connected/caused insomnia, is killing me!!!

  4. Major Kong Says:

    Ironically the GOP reminds me more of the Communists every day.

    "The truth is what we say it is comrades"

  5. Anubis Bard Says:

    There was something reassuring about the fact that most Republican legislators at least seemed to be in on the grift – and so living in the real world. But either they've been electing more fools and self-gulling fabulists or the grifters have just gradually lost track of the real world – and that, as you say, is not going to end well.

  6. sluggo Says:

    Idiots that believe the Earth is 6000 years old will believe anything else that is not true.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology

  7. Brutus Says:

    Neither party (nor any country) has a lock on acting like some bizarre Orwellian Ministry of Information spinning lies and propaganda out of thin air. In fact, such behavior has become de rigeur across the board for agitators and provocateurs more interested in strategy and messaging control than truth. Maybe it started on Madison Ave. with ubiquitous and unfounded claims such as “new and improved” and spread throughout the culture. Who can say? The result today is an epistemological crisis that has rendered the masses frankly unable to discern truth from fantasy. There is only personal truth, which is to say, belief. Self-governance is at this point an afterthought.

  8. seniorscrub Says:

    From 1984 — "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. "Reality control," they called it: in Newspeak, "doublethink." "

  9. Brian M Says:

    But….but…emails. At least Trump has saved us from She of the Evil emails.

  10. democommie Says:

    "as OUR new leader, we Americans have a clueless, stupid, ignorant, bigoted, narcissistic, immature, demagogic mountain of rotting orange-colored smegma"

    THAT belongs on a fucking t-shirt, bumper sticker, crawler under the newswire, whatev….

    c u n d gulag:

    Brilliant. I surrender my imaginary crown* of vituperative victoriousnessosity to you, SIR!

    * Yes it was awarded by the DICK** (I'm the chairman and sole voter)

    ** Democommie Institute of Caustic Knowledge.

  11. democommie Says:

    Lying is what politicians do.

    They lie to their spouses, their children, their patrons, their colleauges, their caucuses, their whips and majority leaders, the press and the public at large. They will, if given the opportunity to various committees and in public/private hearings. It's what they do.

    The difference between them, even now, is that democrats lie but they don't seem to concoct deliberate falsehoods and fabricate shit out of thin air JUST to fuck the public and destroy a system of governance. If they ever did it hasn't happened in my lifetime.

    The GOP is not only thrilled to be in power, they are ecstatic to the point of braingazms that they CAN absolutely fuck the public, destroy the mechanisms of government excepting police, military and tax authorities* AND get re-elected.

    I'm not a praying man, but I'm hoping that they're wrong.

    * Somebody gotta pay for shit, son–especially since we gave allathem tax breaks to our sponsors.

  12. Mike Furlan Says:

    So what do we do?

    Hidden behind the hideous visage of Trump is the corporate power that runs the country.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism

    And protests don't seem to be working.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/05/zeynep_tufekci_author_of_twitter_and_tear_gas_on_networked_protest.html

    I know one thing that really doesn't work.

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/thank-you-scott/3498997?snl=1

    So what do we do? Maybe more money, as painful as that is, donated to the right candidates?

  13. Michael Says:

    The lies have always been big. "Trickle-down". "Welfare queen". "Peace with honor".

  14. disgusted Says:

    I trust that everyone reading and responding to these posts are actually doing something other than venting. Are you contacting senators, joining protests, talking to neighbors and friends? Recent reports that 22% of Republicans have a favorable view of Putin and the report that 45% of Republicans think that colleges have a negative impact on America scares the snot out of me. I have tried over and over to speak with people who voted for Trump but I might as well speak with a rock. He has them so fooled with his lies that they can't even see how he is screwing them. Hopefully, those of us who are totally disgusted by the lies and behavior need to make sure that we energize others who believe as we do that the liar-in-chief and Republican congressmen and women are ruining this country. Don't just respond here, make your voice heard in as many venues as possible. Sign petitions, email, call, protest, drive people to vote, anything to get these awful people out of positions where they are making bad choices for the rest of us.

  15. Katydid Says:

    @Disgusted; I also read that (some ridiculously high number) of Republicans don't trust colleges. It's part of the disinformation push their party has–educated people are a threat to them, so they attack education.

  16. Area Man Says:

    Mike Furlan Says:

    And protests don't seem to be working.

    I think protests on their own rarely do anything. But protests can provide us with a small sense of agency in a situation where we otherwise feel powerless — "well, at least I'm standing up for something!" — and more importantly, can give activists a chance to meet one another and network.

    And certainly politicians — well, ones that actually want to try to represent a constituency, as opposed to their funders — do pay attention to targeted protest actions. Having 200 people outside your office, chanting every day, tends to focus your mind — especially if those 200 people end up leafleting on behalf of your opponent.

    But protests are definitely a means to an end, not an end, and if the protest 1. doesn't have any clear message and 2. doesn't have any sustained organizing effort, then it's the equivalent of peeing your pants underwater — it may give you a warm feeling for a little while, but no one else is going to notice.

  17. Area Man Says:

    To run my point firmly into the ditch, too many protests these days — and I know this is going to sound like hippie-punching — are so inclusive as to stand for nothing.

    When you start out with, say, a "better health insurance now rally" and wind up — in the name of inclusiveness — trying to accommodate the anti-circumcision movement, the anti-vaccine movement, leather enthusiasts, sister-wives, hemp growers, Jesus freaks, anti-Jesus freaks, and people demanding bicycle lanes, plus assorted anarchists who are just there to throw things at the cops and break windows at Starbucks, you've lost the plot and shouldn't get too offended when the media focuses on the violence and ignores your message.

  18. Mike Furlan Says:

    Area Man, good points. Chris Hedges amplifies one of them, the problem of the violent minority:

    http://m.truthdig.com/report/item/the_cancer_of_occupy_20120206

  19. E* Says:

    @sluggo: I had a similar thought lately. It occurred to me that there is a sizable group that believes that the earth is just a few millennia old, that dinosaurs and humans co-existed, and a host of other alternative facts (e.g., https://creationmuseum.org/). OK, so how do you hold onto these beliefs in the face of heaps of evidence to the contrary? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that you choose a source to trust and bubble up with other people who rely on the same source. The U.S. certainly has a long tradition of groups doing this. But now they have reality TV shows and the interwebs, so this brand of alternative fact acceptance becomes more mainstream.

    Just some thoughts about what might be contributing to our current cultural mess, although I'm sure it's the confluence of many factors.

  20. democommie Says:

    @Sluggo:

    They will believe anything that doesn't conflict with their cultural/confirmation bias.

  21. Bitter Scribe Says:

    To be fair, the 50,000 coal jobs thing was a case of stretching the truth and cherry-picking data. If you'll notice, Trump, Pence and the others are always careful to say "mining jobs," which their supporters (and others) read as "coal mining jobs" because it's presented as part of a discussion about coal. In fact, it's based on government statistics about "mining and forestry" jobs, which includes all mining plus timber harvesting etc. Dishonest, certainly, but not quite pure fantasy.

  22. c u n d gulag Says:

    democommie,
    Thank you!

    Though a washing of the hands will be required before and after any transactions involving that imaginary crown! ;-)

  23. Aurora S Says:

    @Area Man and Mark Furlan:

    Yes and no. When we're talking about trying to get a specific thing done, the turd-in-a-turbine approach is crack for media inclined to shine a spotlight on the worst behavior to capitalize on the human urge to stare at dumpster fires. Though over-inclusiveness is less of a "we don't want to leave anyone out" issue and more of a "these people with pet causes are just showing up and hitching their wagon to ours" issue.

    The bonus of having weirdos show up to steal a movement's thunder is that it typically scares the fuck out of Crazy Uncle Liberty and his army of fellow armchair patriots. These guys think the Right are the only ones allowed to own guns or be physically threatening in any sort of way, and they lose their fucking minds if they get one whiff of anyone on the Left doing the same.

    I work in Gettysburg, and on the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, there is a major reenactment in which town is flooded with tourists, reenactors, and a disturbing number of people making pilgrimages from southern states to mourn the loss of the Confederacy. Predictably, the latter contains members of the heavily-armed white supremacist libertarian doomsday cult that like to strut around flashing their arms and scream at bystanders. They are also scared shitless of their favorite boogeyman–Antifa.

    Rumor had it (a rumor that they pulled out of their asses and spread in their circles) that this year, Antifa was supposed to show up and desecrate graves of soldiers because Reasons. Well…there was an anti-Antifa "patriot" protest where members of the aforementioned cult were armed and ready to fuck some shit up. Of course, Antifa never showed because the whole thing was bullshit, but it made the news specifically because one of these assholes was carrying a poorly-maintained revolver with a bullet in the chamber and accidentally shot himself in the leg.

    Come on…it's Antifa. Aren't they best known as a disorganized rag-tag band of wankers who throw bricks through shop windows? But the Right thinks they're absolutely terrifying, which is pretty awesome if only for its entertainment value. Now if you want a real protest, take a page from the European playbook and check out the G20 summit stuff from this year. That was a pretty good one. I mean…fucking zombies. It was badass.

  24. democommie Says:

    @ Aurora S:

    "fucking zombies".

    I'm not sure how that went over at the G20 but that would wreak havoc outside of the Crystal Cathedral or one of the other monuments to roobzgriftin'.

  25. Aurora S Says:

    1000 people dressed as zombies for a performance piece in an anti-capitalist protest? I mean, in the US you'd have trouble getting 30 people to have the discipline to put on something like that. The "patriot" horde would be shaking in their boots.

  26. Katydid Says:

    Hey, Aurora! I live within "reasonable field trip" distance to Gettysburg and I've been there several times when the kids were in school. I heard about the fool shooting himself in the leg and just shook my head. Over the years, I've worked with people who lived around that area and made the long commute because FreeDUMB in PA.

    Where I live, a distressing amount of people think we're still fighting the Civil War…and the South is winning. It's inexplicable, really.

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