The Exact Opposite Part V

To the GOP, telling the truth is a sign of weakness

by Baron Dave Romm

The Exact Opposite series:
Part I | Part II | | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Back to Political Links

these originally appeared on
Bartcop-E, and all links worked when posted

Cognitive Dissonance: How to get people to believe the exact opposite

The right-wing loonies of today have their historical precedent, but they seem to avoid reality with a new zeal. And yet, conservatives aren't that dumb and Republicans aren't that gullible... I hope. Why are they do easily fooled into believing the exact opposite of the truth these days? Paul Krugman examines Sweet Little Lies (Nevada Thunder archive of NYTimes, April 9, 2007):

Four years into a war fought to eliminate a nonexistent threat, we all have renewed appreciation for the power of the Big Lie: people tend to believe false official claims about big issues, because they can't picture their leaders being dishonest about such things.
But there's another political lesson I don't think has sunk in: the power of the Little Lie — the small accusation invented out of thin air, followed by another, and another, and another. Little Lies aren't meant to have staying power. Instead, they create a sort of background hum, a sense that the person facing all these accusations must have done something wrong.
For a long time, basically from 9/11 until the last remnants of President Bush's credibility drowned in New Orleans, the Bush administration was able to go big on its deceptions. Most people found it inconceivable that an American president would, for example, assert without evidence that Saddam and Al Qaeda were allies. Mr. Bush won the 2004 election because a quorum of voters still couldn't believe he would grossly mislead them on matters of national security.
Before 9/11, however, the right-wing noise machine mainly relied on little lies. And now it has returned to its roots.
The Clinton years were a parade of fake scandals: Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Filegate, Christmas-card-gate. At the end, there were false claims that Clinton staff members trashed the White House on their way out. Each pseudoscandal got headlines, air time and finger-wagging from the talking heads. The eventual discovery in each case that there was no there there, if reported at all, received far less attention. The effect was to make an administration that was, in fact, pretty honest and well run — especially compared with its successor — seem mired in scandal.
Even in the post-9/11 environment, little lies never went away. In particular, promoting little lies seems to have been one of the main things U.S. attorneys, as loyal Bushies, were expected to do. For example, David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, appears to have been fired because he wouldn't bring unwarranted charges of voter fraud. There's a lot of talk now about a case in Wisconsin, where the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney prosecuted the state's purchasing supervisor over charges that a court recently dismissed after just 26 minutes of oral testimony, with one judge calling the evidence "beyond thin." But by then the accusations had done their job: the unjustly accused official had served almost four months in prison, and the case figured prominently in attack ads alleging corruption in the Democratic governor's administration.
This is the context in which you need to see the wild swings Republicans have been taking at Nancy Pelosi.
First, there were claims that the speaker of the House had demanded a lavish plane for her trips back to California. One Republican leader denounced her "arrogance of extravagance" — then, when it became clear that the whole story was bogus, admitted that he had never had any evidence.
Now there's Ms. Pelosi's fact-finding trip to Syria, which Dick Cheney denounced as "bad behavior" — unlike the visit to Syria by three Republican congressmen a few days earlier, or Newt Gingrich's trip to China when he was speaker. Ms. Pelosi has responded coolly, dismissing the administration's reaction as a "tantrum." But it's more than that: the hysterical reaction to her trip is part of a political strategy, aided and abetted by news organizations that give little lies their time in the sun.
Fox News, which is a partisan operation in all but name, plays a crucial role in the Little Lie strategy — which is why there is growing pressure on Democratic politicians not to do anything, like participating in Fox-hosted debates, that helps Fox impersonate a legitimate news organization.
But Fox has had plenty of help. Even Time's Joe Klein, a media insider if anyone is, wrote of the Pelosi trip that "the media coverage of this on CNN and elsewhere has been abysmal." For example, CNN ran a segment about Ms. Pelosi's trip titled "Talking to Terrorists."
The G.O.P.'s reversion to the Little Lie technique is a symptom of political weakness, of a party reduced to trivial smears because it has nothing else to offer. But the technique will remain effective — and the U.S. political scene will remain ugly — as long as many people in the news media keep playing along. Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

I hope Krugman and the NYTimes will forgive me for reproducing the whole article, but I couldn't find good excerpts: The whole thing is worthy.

Let's go back to the first paragraph. The Big Lie has power because "people tend to believe false official claims about big issues, because they can't picture their leaders being dishonest about such things". This is known as Cognitive Dissonance.

For all the right-wing insisting that you can't trust government, that Washington Insiders were the problem all along, they are so easily swayed by a conservative government and Republican Washington Insiders. They don't see the dissonance. The more you are convinced of a position, the more easily you can be swayed when someone lies to you about it.

"G_d is great, and therefore we will win this High School Football Game."

"We fight them there so se don't fight them here, therefore we should cut taxes."

"9/11 was bad, so we should go get Saddam Hussein."

Cognitive Dissonance and The Big Lie know no political boundary. They are used all the time, in commercials and marriages. But Karl Rove and company excel at getting people to believe the exact opposite even as they cover their legal asses by denying the most eggregious lies in public (but not under oath). Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, and was a dire enemy of Osama bin Laden, yet most of the country is convinced otherwise. Cutting taxes under Reagan and Bush has been a disaster, but most of the country is convinced otherwise.

This transcends stupidity. It has become a religious argument. Very deliberately, it has become a religious argument. The easiest way to change someone's behavior is by convincing them that a Higher Power is involved. When a higher power invoked for Alcoholic's Anonymous and helps people quit drinking, this is a good thing. When a higher power is invoked for political purposes and gets people to shoot doctors or fly airplanes into buildings, it is evil.

As I've written about previously, I think Republicans lost it when Ronald Reagan was elected specifically to balance the federal budget, but the 1981 budget contained obscene deficits from which the US has never recovered. At the time, Reagan lied and said the budget would be balanced by 1983... then 1984... then gave up and said that deficits were a good thing. A large swath of the American electorate has always been more than a little crazy, but this brazen lie by a man they had put their trust in just put them over the edge.

Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman: "Absolute, deliberate lies"

Republicans have gained political traction by beating up Democrats for not supporting out troops, but the exact opposite is the case, as Republicans don't give a damn about our tired and underarmored troops who come back to urine-soaked VA hospital beds. If you support our troops, you will vote Democratic.

Glenn Greewald The Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch frauds April 25, 2007:

It is difficult to watch these clips from yesterday's House hearings investigating the absolute, deliberate lies regarding Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch fed to the American public by the U.S. military -- with an eager and accommodating assist from our excellent and intrepid media -- and feel anything other than disgust (and this is just beyond comment). But as anger-inducing as it all is, there is really nothing remarkable about any of it.
What these episodes actually do is illustrate how virtually every rotted and broken branch of our political and media culture operate: First, it has been well-known for several years that the U.S. military outright invented lies regarding literally every aspect of the Jessica Lynch story. And the Tillman family for years has been vocally complaining about the lies they were told by the Pentagon regarding the circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman's death, the pressure on other soldiers to conceal the truth, and the crass and disgusting exploitation of those lies to serve the administration's political interests. None of this is new. So why is Congress holding hearings to investigate these matters only now?
The answer, of course, is because the Republicans who controlled Congress for the last four years absolutely suppressed any attempt whatsoever to exert oversight on the administration. They not only investigated nothing, they aggressively blocked every real investigation into allegations of wrongdoing and corruption on the part of the administration. Our government literally ceased to function the way it is designed to, because Congressional Republicans deliberately abdicated their duty of checks on the executive and actively helped to conceal every improper and deceitful act.
The only reason any of this is being aired now is because the American people removed the President's party from control of Congress and they are no longer able to keep concealed the Bush administration's misconduct.
As Greenwald points out, the truth about Jessica Lynch had been known for a long time... outside of the US. Guardian, May 15, 2003:

Her rescue will go down as one of the most stunning pieces of news management yet conceived. It provides a remarkable insight into the real influence of Hollywood producers on the Pentagon's media managers, and has produced a template from which America hopes to present its future wars.

The exact opposite of right-wing political correctness is true: The news media is conservative and Hollywood is controlled by the right wing.

The Myth of the Liberal Media

Right Wing Poliical Correctness has that the media is controlled by liberals and/or have a liberal bias. When you actually look at the facts, the exact opposite is true. The media is very conservative, to the point where most news outlets cannot be considered examples of "journalism". This is a large subject, which I'll tackle in detail next time. For now, I leave you with a link to Bill Moyer's Journal, about the intelligence failure leadeing up to the War In Iraq. This is a huge story that was suspicious at the time. The conservative news media just printed the propaganda from the White House with little or no real journalism. Why does it take the courage of Blll Moyers to report the facts five years later when the mainstream media barely acknowledges their failure?

As of May 7, you can stream the video of Bill Moyor's Journal for May 4th, 2007, aired on PBS. Excerpt of transcript:

BILL MOYERS: The President said the source was British intelligence. But you discovered it was Italian intelligence. Do you know why the President said it was British intelligence?
CARLO BONINI: Well, what happened here is what we call competitive intelligence.
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean competitive? Why is it competitive?/
CARLO BONINI: It means that you put a piece of raw intelligence in the circuit of the intelligence - allied intelligence agencies. And what happens is in the morning what is false turns into true facts at night. This information is given to the US intelligence. In the meantime, the same information is given to the British intelligence. The US intelligence checks the informations with the British intelligence. And the British intelligence says, "Yeah, we have the same information." The point is that the two intelligence agencies, they don't have to share their sources. So nor the Americans or the Brits are going to say from whom they got the informations. But they got a confirmation.
CARLO BONINI: Then they talk to the Italians. And the Italians say, "Oh, you had a confirmation from the British?" Rome talks to London, "Hey, you got a confirmation from Washington?" So the same piece of junk obtained in 48 hours, two different confirmations. It's a mirror game. I can say briefly when US intelligence received the informations from the Italians, they - I mean, the CIA urged the DGSE - the French intelligence, the French CIA - to check the informations because Niger is a former French colony. There's no better intelligence agency than the French one to double check a story like this. They worked hard on the information, and they came back saying there is nothing. This intelligence you received is simply junk intelligence. There is no evidence of such a deal between the Niger government and the Iraqi government.

Bonus picture!

Signs from Mayday Parade, Minneapolis May 6, 2007
On the street awaiting the Mayday Parade in Minneapolis, MN
May 6, 2007
gallery coming soon!

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