Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate


I’ve been going over what was said at Wednesday’s Republican debate, and I’m terrified. You should be, too. After all, given the vagaries of elections, there’s a pretty good chance that one of these people will end up in the White House.

Why is that scary? I would argue that all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions. And some seem willing to advance their ambitions with outright lies.

More here

Flash back to the 80s and 90s.

The Republicans had learned to use a new phrase with devastating effect: "the liberal media." They were, and still are to an extent, absolutely relentless with it. They complained and whined about "the liberal media" always. They shouted it, screamed it, even while Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman had pretty convincingly illustrated in their seminal work, "Manufacturing Consent," that the news media were NOT liberal, and, in fact, by and large, exist to play a subservient role toward centers of national power, regardless of party or ideology. But that didn't matter. Conservatives didn't care about the reality. They pushed it so intensely that it finally got into the media's heads.

Ultimately, as Krugman observes in this column, newspapers were running headlines that might as well have been along the lines of "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ." The media caved, and decided to favor a false sense of "balance" over accuracy. This opened things up widely for conservatives.

Flash forward to today. The right wing can now essentially say ANYTHING IT WANTS, no matter how wrong, unsupported, absurd, or dangerous, without any resistance from "the liberal media." Ever wonder how so many Americans are confused about the settled science of global warming and climate change? Ever wonder why "creationism" or "intelligent design" have managed to develop such a massive following, even making their way into the schools as "education"? Wonder why we invaded Iraq in order to find weapons of mass destruction when there were no weapons of mass destruction to find, which was KNOWN at the time? And on and on.

It's because conservatives worked their asses off a couple of decades ago to create the circumstances that would allow them to lie constantly, for their own political benefit. Only now, in its critical mass of malicious disinformation, is the nation starting to see how truly f'd up the situation has become. How can there be a useful public discourse, the "marketplace of ideas" so greatly valued by our founding fathers, when lies and bullshit are given the same value as the truth?

I don't know if we'll ever be able to dig ourselves out of this one. Things could actually get worse.