In a recent Op-ed piece Paul Krugman illustrates the Republican Party’s “allegiance to false doctrines” and how it “has become a crucial badge of identity” citing Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s ignorance of the climate science as yet another example of the Party that perpetuates misconceptions funded by wealthy special interests . What makes Rubio’s willful blindness about climate change remarkable is that the recent detached chunk of the western Antarctica ice sheet (about the size of Texas and California combined) will ultimately raise sea levels where the most populated areas in Rubio’s state will be under water, sometime by the end of this century. Melting ice sheets and glaciers are the most apparent consequences of climate change. Rubio is but one player out of the thousands over the last two decades that have dedicated themselves to casting doubt on anything that gets in the way of an ever more powerful plutocracy in this country.
Not that I am trying to drag out the obvious failures and flaws of our 43rd President but I couldn’t but post on something I came across that George Bush Jr. said when he was trying to justify his invasion of Iraq based on the false premise that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Weapons of mass destruction he claimed that posed an “imminent threat” to our national security. He made the comment knowing full well that it lacked any factual basis.
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
Clearly the President was confused about the need to repeat a lie, not the truth, over and over and over to make it seem as a truth, especially to poorly informed people. Besides the fact that George W. Bush and the truth are pretty much an oxymoron, what seems to have escaped the inarticulate commander-in-chief whose malapropisms were the butt of many late night comic routines is that truth is usually apparent and needs very little if any redundancy to “sink in”. The use of the term “propaganda” also reveals the type of thinking used by both Bush and his partner in crime, Dick Cheney. The term itself conveys that the use of any material, including rumors and likely falsehoods, are to be used in winning over opponents.
When you seriously think about it there really are few real truths in this world. Most of what people claim to be truths are merely perceptions defined through their own personal filters after being conditioned by their family and culture. We tend to see things in ways that someone on the other side of the country or the other side of the world might interpret differently. Variations of “the truth” account for the variety of religious, political and social groups that permeate societies. Thus the need for propaganda for political leaders in order to unite their country when an external threat seems apparent. The problem arises however when this tool is abused and serves no need except for a power trust that has an agenda, as did the neo-conservatives who dominated the Bush administration.
I came across this quote while yet defending against another right-wing attack on the Obama White House regarding the tragic event that took place at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, November 2012. The lie that is being persistently pushed by the GOP is that somehow Obama and his administration were partially responsible for the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Stephens by failing to properly reinforce the consulate with necessary military staff and then later tried to conceal this problem
Bush’s quote is so typical of how the distortion of facts are so prominent in much of what represents the GOP today and their claims about Obama, science, abortion, welfare, etc., etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. After losing the moral high ground with the American voters beginning in 2006 with their failed policies that drug us into two deadly and expensive wars and weakened the fail-safes that had been in place for decades to prevent the worst economic depression since the 1930’s, they took a turn for the worse to regain their lost glory. There was no concealing their shortcomings so there only strategy was to lie about it over and over and over until enough people came to believe that the opposite was true. With the aid of the world wide web, social media, wireless technology and support from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, including the FOX news network, something that couldn’t be so easily accomplished in an earlier time occurred almost over night.
Timing was also on their side. Poorly informed Americans overwrought by losing their jobs and homes while seeing the criminals who brought this about being bailed out by Washington is what caused the defeat of the McCain/Palin GOP ticket but then it all miraculously got transferred to Obama and the Democrats who inherited this mess just as it was reaching its peak. Gone now are many of the political accomplices and their deeds that were destroying our economy and the remnants of a once great middle class. Out of these ashes evolved a well-funded strategy by laissez-faire billionaires like the Koch brothers, Pete Peterson and Sheldon Adelson, enabling astroturf organizations and redirecting the American public’s anger and hostility toward those who now controlled the seats of power in government. The anti-government, pro-capital attacks against “big government” that failed during the Roosevelt years found fertile ground in the aftermath of the disastrous George W. Bush administration.
The achievement of this force where a lie repeated over and over and over begins to sink in as the truth is pretty evident amongst those who represent the wealthy special interests. “Taxing the wealthiest will hurt the job creators” was one of their biggest successes in getting common working class people to buy into a fable that they share a connection of sorts between themselves and the wealthiest 1% in this country. This enables the delusion that they too can be hurt by a proposal that seeks to tax incomes over $1 million at a higher rate or that what little property they may actually own will be impacted by an inheritance or estate tax. Convinced that taxes are theft and that “freedoms” are curbed by such state action, many came to see what the billionaires wanted them to see – that all federally subsidized programs were nothing more than “socialism”. Government, not the crony capitalism that infected it, was their scapegoat.
This was the popular talking point of the financially well-healed back in the 1930’s used to scare the American working class as they began to form unions to protect their jobs. There never was such a threat of course and likely because as author John Steinbeck noted back then, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
Many of those who call themselves libertarians today with incomes at or below median levels likely see themselves not as poor or even middle class but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. The American dream never dies with such people even in the face of overwhelming odds. Propped up by the notion that anyone who applies themselves and works hard can also be a successful and wealthy entrepreneur allows the plutocracy in this country to find the continued support they need that preserves their wealth. For every Horatio Alger success story we read about however there are perhaps hundreds that crash and burn and go unnoticed by the starry-eyed, free-market fanatics.
The other big lie that gets foisted upon a poorly informed public is that man-made global warming is a hoax, as the Marco Rubio comment mentioned earlier alluded to. The suggestion that the scientists who study this phenomena are not in agreement is misrepresented by climate deniers cherry-picking certain details from the mountain of data that’s been collected on this complex issue. Clearly however 97% of those who seriously research and study climate change have concluded that global warming is “unequivocal” and that humans have been the “dominant cause” since the 1950s.
The climate deniers draw their forces from the same industry-funded people who backed Reagan’s fantastical Star Wars program (the Strategic Defense Initiative) back in the 1980‘s and that smoking was not a cause of lung cancer. Fred Singer, who has been involved in all of these denial movements, states his objection to being labeled as a denier in a PBS Frontline special, but any study of denial websites will always show they are heavily weighted in denying the research papers of real climate scientists rather than submitting their own peer-reviewed studies to support their opposing views. It was this cogent fact that got Marco Rubio in trouble.
Other lies repeated by the GOP and their conservative supporters over and over and over to win public support are:
There probably isn’t a topic that the lie-repeated-over-and-over-and-over-to-reflect-a-truth approach hasn’t been applied to. It is used by all of those who were once part of a power elite but where socio-economic changes have weakened their status. It is fostered by a desire to sustain a status quo and where scapegoats are required to divert from the failings of the accusers.
Most of what threatens civilizations today ARE caused by human activities, beliefs and customs. These are not conditions that are unalterable, only lacking the will of people to recognize that the power to make their world better lies within themselves.
Too many people have come to depend on faulty economic models to guide their choices rather than the collective wisdom bound up in the vast research of social and environmental studies where economic decisions play only a small part in policy making. Free-market capitalists have convinced a naive public that an invisible hand really exists that will ethically guide the markets as if these concepts were part of traditional religious beliefs. They’re not. They’re human contrivances and thus susceptible to failures and exploitation.
What is this status quo that we can’t seem to break free from? It’s the inequality that grows each day as a small plutocratic force slowly eradicates the tools of self-determination by buying off the institutions that guarantee our individual rights under the Constitution. How ironic then to hear that those who attack those movements who seek to break the stranglehold of wealthy oligarchs and corporate interests claim to be the true defenders of the Constitution. Is this not emblematic of how successful the perpetrators of repeated lies have become?