Time to belabor what OUGHT to seem obvious, but you know how that goes in the land of the grave and the home of the brie.
The phony false equivalency showed up this morning with an outlier poll on CNN which gave all the talking heads the vapors and allowed them to pretend that this is a horse race, when, in fact it’s a whore’s race, and by that I mean “media whores” in the sense of Les Moonves’ infamous, this election may be bad for the country but it’s GREAT for CBS! Well, I see BS all right:
Washington (CNN) Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton start the race to November 8 on essentially even ground, with Trump edging Clinton by a scant two points among likely voters, and the contest sparking sharp divisions along demographic lines in a new CNN/ORC Poll….
And, as I’ve noted before, polls have an inherent problem as news, aside from being an abstraction (albeit a statistical abstraction) which is: polling is always inherently locked into an unchanging Universe, whereas any cursory survey of history shows that it is the chaotic, ever-changing Universe that always has the final say — generally with a Factor X, an unknown that completely changes the nature of the race.
As a complex example of the Double October Surprise, how about: when LBJ had the North Vietnamese ready for Paris Peace Talks in return for slowing the bombing, and Nixon’s stooges found out about it, and treasonously told the President of South Vietnam to reject it, that he’d get a better deal if they waited until Tricky Dick was in office.*
[* Note that South Vietnam might well have survived a peace deal under Hubert Humphrey, but that Nixon not only managed to sell out the South Vietnamese with his Paris Peace Talks and “Peace With Honor” BS, but that MORE American kids were killed under Nixon than had died under Johnson, Kennedy and Eisenhower COMBINED!]
Indeed, the very term “October Surprise” is dreaded in all presidential campaigns because such events completely bollux up the “steady state” notion of reality that polling requires to be taken seriously.
As it stands, the CNN poll has been the outlier all day, but no one can Out-Liar the cable media, who have seized on this tenuous “fact” to do everything possible to flog this election as a horse race — implicit in that notion, the absurdity that the election itself, and the ISSUES facing America take a back seat to tickling the amygdala with an endless recitation of fake scandals, suspicions, the byzantine world of GOP House investigations of Hillary Clinton and the vapors over imaginary security breaches that always seems to conveniently forget Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks release of the Bradley Manning ‘leak’ of 700,000 classified military and STATE DEPARTMENT documents and videos!*
[* This is a feat of mental contortion and cognitive origami akin to screaming in horror about a horse turd in the driveway after all the horses have escaped and the barn has burned down. Absurd, but a REAL drama queen can pull it off, alas.]
But that is all prologue.
i. The Purveyors of Unreality
I have written at length on the inherent intellectual bankruptcy of turning a couple of “polls” into lead “news” when, in fact, the so-called polls are interesting, but are ultimately NOT facts and NOT hard news. The broadcasters of the 1960s understood this, and polls almost never led the news. Real news had to be visual, had to be factual.
Infotainment news requires neither. I mean, HOW visual are polls, unless your graphics department can doodle, burn and font up an eye-popping chart? (Answer, not really.)
This endless Death March to
Bataan Voting Day has gone on LONGER, friends, than the election cycle. It began BEFORE the 2014 Midterms. (OK, actually, it began on election night 2012, as the talking heads alternately laughed and then chided themselves for mentioning.)
And the news coverage has droned on and on into a final sort of trance in which everything is equal, and all “scandals” are equal, and the Right Wing trope that “Hillary is Untrustworthy” is accepted without a blink, just as it was when first propounded.
Let’s face it: in a world of infotainment, clickbait is king.
And when the bottom line IS the bottom line, no amount of journalistic malpractice, shoddy and sloppy reporting and an almost fanatical willingness to split the information baby down the middle each and every time has led to an almost Solomonic Solipsism of Seamless Sophistry in search of clicks.
But it has NOT led to an election that says much about the future of our country, unless that future is a form of idiocracy in Darwinian perpetuity.
OK: at the count of three, you will awaken from your trance, feeling invigorated, thoughtful and perceptive.
One. Two. Three.
ii. What The Hell Are We Thinking?
The Hirsute Cheeto® Beast is a free-running Reality Show. That much is certain. The click-bait news has obsessed over his pratfalls ever since he descended the escalator to tell us about Mexican rapists a little over a year ago. But, with 63 daze [sic] to go, let’s actually take a look at the Republican Nominee for Pres’unt (to use Bob Dole’s mispronunciation of the job he desired) is in the clear light of day:
- Donald Trump is the POSTER BOY for the One Percent.
- Donald Trump is the POSTER BOY for the Angry White Racist.
- Donald Trump is a flim flam man, selling snake oil, without ever presenting a single coherent policy or the evidence of his “business acumen” in the form of his tax returns.
- Donald Trump is in no wise qualified to serve as President, having never held ANY elective office whatsoever. The Presidency isn’t the place for On the Job Training.
( * I know what you’re thinking: But What About Obama? To which two responses, too: first, How dare you GOPs pretend that Obama has been a success in any wise whilst you have denied him so much as his personhood in the past eight years? Second, Obama had a LONG career in politics and grass-roots political organizing, and that experience has proven itself out over the past eight years, despite GOP hallucinations and disinformation.)
And let me take a moment to disabuse you of the Ross Perot Fallacy: business is the OPPOSITE of governance.
- In business, you are the unquestioned boss (subject to some restraints like stockholders or the law, but, in practice, these aren’t really much hindrance).
- In politics, you HAVE to have consensus.
- In business, the organization moves as quickly as you can force it to move, minus the minor hindrance of regulations like, say, for mine safety, or clean air, or clean water. But in practice, again, the current SCOTUS is behind your rapine pillaging, so go for it, businessmen!
- In politics, by DESIGN, the machine moves slowly (save in time of war).
- In business, you TELL people what to do.
- In politics, you ASK people to go along with you.
The pilots’ explanation would be that Business is like an airplane and Politics is like a helicopter. The controls for the former are opposite the latter. What takes you up in an airplane takes you down in a helicopter; what takes you forward in a plane takes you backwards in a helicopter. Business acumen does not translate into political acumen and vice versa. The number of failed businessmen in politics, and the number of politicians failing in business is significant, and we ought to take that into account. Anyone who thinks that business skills and political skills are interchangeable is unfamiliar with one or the other, and probably both.
So, we have a businessman, manifestly unqualified as a politician, demonstrably lying either three times in four, or nine in ten, depending on your fact-checkers; a member of the one percent, absurdly claiming to be a blue-collar billionaire, on the side of the “working man,” and this patent absurdity is taken at virtual face value.
Clearly, Donald Trump is NOT a billionaire.
iii. What The Hell Were We Thinking?
On the other hand, you have the most qualified candidate since John Quincy Adams running for president as the Democratic Nominee. It ought to give us pause that the GOPs — MENSA members all, as they style themselves — cannot PRONOUNCE the name of the Democratic Party, not because they are mentally retarded, but, rather, because they want to mock the opposition with every mention of their name. How ADULT!
If, however, their party name is, increasingly accurately, spelled as the RepubliKKKlans, they become upset that their charred sidewalk has been effaced by that solitary horse turd alluded to earlier. This has been intentional, and has essentially dominated American political discourse since 1980, when Reagan arguably made it the centerpiece of his politics, but still had enough of a conscience to keep it at arm’s length, more or less. (Remember: Grover Norquist’s National Taxpayers’ Union started out as an office in the West Wing of Reagan’s White House and was spun off when large enough to sustain itself on its own demerits.)
The modern era of Republican misinformation begins with Pete Coors’ donation of half a million bucks to Ed Fuelner to start the Heritage Foundation in 1973. Now, the entire “nonprofit” side of GOPlife is a series of fake partisan “think tanks” who are, increasingly, nakedly partisan and utterly unapologetic about playing politics on what is, essentially, the taxpayers’ dime.
This has been true in spades in the GOP House, with seven congressional investigations of “Benghazi” which were inadvertently admitted to be an intentional partisan witch hunt against Hillary Clinton to “drop her numbers.”
What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy (in place) to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sean Hannity Show, Sept. 29, 2015
Statement starts at 4:10
Facts, said John Adams, are stubborn things, but the explicit strategy of the GOP has been — since at least 1986 when Limbaugh went on the no-longer-Fairness-Doctrine-ruled airwaves — to DENY facts and claim that whatever you want to BELIEVE are the real facts. You know, like Climate Change.*
[* John McCain and Sarah Palin said it existed and had to be dealt with in 2008 and somewhere between November and January, there was a sea change and the GOPs went back to denying that it ever existed.
The Tea Party has spent seven years inveighing against a debt that was inflicted by a GOP administration that insisted you could have Tax Cuts for Billionaires AND a War in Iraq and just keep it off the books and on the credit card. And, for five years, the Tea Partiers in Congress have kept any actual congressional action from coming to pass. No WONDER they have all that time for witch-hunt committees and vacations.
Obama has taken the fewest vacation days of any modern president (look it up). And this congress has taken more vacation days than any modern congress.
That pretty much summarizes the political state of the nation.
But, having reached the home stretch in the Death March to
Bataan Voting Day, this actual state of mendacity: the GOPs base their platform and beliefs on disproven facts, and false beliefs in fictions LABELED “facts.” There is no question of this. But it has become the Modus Operandi of the GOPs, and let’s not kid ourselves.
But we stand on a precipice: when the most qualified and most truthful candidate of the election season is continually dogged by a fake email “scandal” and the hacked emails via Russian intelligence and the cat’s-paw Wikileaks virtually WITHOUT COMMENT by a media that takes all such “revelations” at face value…
And when a manifestly incompetent and unqualified candidate is continually goosed and forgiven, coddled and false-equivalenced in order to make the Infotainment Complex’s bottom line fatter and their clicks more multitudinous, it becomes clear that our civilization is shooting itself in the foot in a disastrous and potentially fatal manner.
iv. Whither the Whether We Have a Future?
The problem, it would seem, is that we seize on ANY bit of trivia that produces the clickbait.
If the CNN poll says the “race is tightening” or “Trump is even” it doesn’t actually mean that anything has changed. Hillary remains significantly up in the “swing” states and the national numbers are just that: numbers.
But that’s falling into the trap. We could just as easily end up with the flypaper of “Clinton is up in Texas!” which comes from another, equally reputable poll. And it’s been brought up a smidge. The fall campaign now kicks off in earnest, without the slightest indication that it is going to be anything other than an ugly feces-flinging extravaganza in the Grand tradition of the Oil Party.
Which is false-equivalenced only about a thousand times a day on TeeVee. And the talking heads say that it’s going to be an ugly campaign, while the clueless and selfish — who believe themselves far better and smarter than you or I — insist that we vote for candidates as unsuited, unqualified and from the fringes of the political spectrum as the Hirsute Cheeto Beast, proposing fantastical prescriptions for our political salvation that either require the use of unicorns, or might just as well require them.
Never in our nation’s history have basic civics and “how the government works” been such obscure knowledge to so many. And never have we had such clueless “experts” opining in such vast numbers. A perfect storm of uncomprehension is brewing, and the consequences may be far more devastating than any of us imagines.
If there were no such things as “right” and “wrong,” none of this would be a problem. But, as it stands, we’re forced to watch a transparently malevolent, evil in the positive sense campaign from the GOP/Trump campaign, based on the meanest aspects of the human character, attempting to invoke the ugliest aspects of human nature.
Does it ever occur to the GOPs what the meta messaging in all of this is?
- Facts and truth are the enemy
- We can’t possibly win in a fair fight
- If people who could vote would vote, we would lose
- Only lying and cheating can keep us in power
- We are the party anointed by God to carry out his Righteous Laws.
Cognitive dissonance much?
And, there is a LOT of cognitive dissonance in the GOP’s stances. Abortion is murder, but defend the death penalty. Better dead than red, but proud to be from a red state, voting red. The national debt is the SINGLE GREATEST THREAT to our republic, but we cannot raise taxes for any reason at any time whatsoever. (Or Grover Norquist will go after us.) Guns are our inherent right and protection, but if people are slaughtered by the thousands every year, that’s not guns’ fault. (Why each gun is born of a virgin and wrapped in swaddling clothes before packaging it in a manger and sending it to you, Mister and Misses America!)
And so forth.
I am not here to belabor the point, but you need the background fresh in your head to apprehend the next part of it:
The commercial media is acting in its own best interests, which are NOT the interests of the public nor the nation.
The only way to reconcile the above with journalism’s quest for the truth and being guardians of “the people’s right to know” with GOP institutional mendacity is …?
Now, what do you suppose that might be?
Yes, Virginia, that’s right: with rationalizations. Deep, hilarious, contradictory and transparently nonsensical rationalizations.
Which has turned our national media into a vast cesspool of non-news, of speculation and talking heads, but has ever-more-transparently KEPT the news from us.
The overturning of the ancient model of profitable news by the digital revolution has served to decimate the journalism corps, and within the remaining press corpse, CYA matters far more than Q&A.
Again, this is prologue.
The situation with the GOP mendacifiers is much the same as in the FIRST Clinton Administration, even including many if not most of the same key players.
These people are KNOWN to the press corpse, but the press corpse wants nothing to do with the icky job of disentangling the toxic nonsense from the equation.
And that is what this is prologue to.
Tomorrow: Meet the new boors; same as the old boors. WILL get fooled again.