Here’s a great illustration of the cycle and danger of the nontroversy. Last week, Mike Huckabee was one of the morons who insisted that Obama’s trip to India was a waste of money because it cost $200 million per day. After serious consideration, the sage and thoughtful Huckabee changed his position yesterday:
Still, the former governor acknowledged that bagging the trip altogether — as some conservatives have suggested — would have been “very insulting” to India, an increasingly important ally to the United States, given its proximity to Pakistan. “They’ve been a good friend of the United States, not only in terms of diplomatic friendship, but they’ve also been a good trade partner,” Huckabee told Van Susteren. “For him to abruptly cancel the trip would have been a snub of epic proportions and would have had long-lasting implications and created damage that, frankly, we don’t need right now in the international community. We need all the friends we can get, and India is one of them we need to keep.”
This is typical of the nontroversy cycle. The same jackasses who tell us lies to get the cycle started are able to come back again and again to comment on it, without repercussion. This would be harmless except that that subjects of these nontroversies are important institutions that are de-legitimatized every time that lies about them are mainstreamed.
Foreign trips are a legitimate part of the President’s portfolio. Zoning boards can legitimately make decisions about where community centers should be located. And city councils have a legitimate right and responsibility to choose the method of trash pickup in their local community. If these institutions weren’t legitimate, there would be no need to tell big whopping lies (“$200 million per day”, “Terror mosque”, “Trash police”) to criticize them.
These distractions are just killing us, because there’s already enough to be cynical about in this country without adding in the few institutions that are actually working as designed.
Things are going to get a lot worse now that Fox News has subpoena power, in effect.
Well, how else does one de-legitimize the institutions that remain functional? It is not like the wrecking crew can knock down all of the institutions at once.
Don’t forget, mistermix, that the lies, once mainstreamed, rarely ever go away, even after they’re fully debunked and shown for the bullshit they are. We still fucking have people basing their votes and their policies on ‘death panels’, ‘creeping Sharia’, and ‘OMG He’s a seekrit mooslim!’
Meanwhile, Dems can’t even get anyone to believe what’s true at face value.
what you call a “distraction” is what the 24/7 news outlets call “content”. what do they care if it’s true or not? if it attracts eyeballs, it’s fit to print.
The fundamental problem is we have at least 30% of the population getting the lies reinforced by Fox Noise. The lies simply get amplified and repeated and eventually they become “facts”. The same cycle happened with the “Al Gore said he invented the Internet fact.” This tactic goes back a long way.
You really do begin to appreciate Lenin’s remark about “useful idiots.” The gasbags like Huckabee get their mugs on teevee and get the mouth-breathers all stirred up, and the media get eyeballs and thus advertising dollars — all very much what each wants.
Meanwhile, the guys who are paying for all this get their business — tinkering with the tax code, writing regulations, directing government investment — done quietly behind the scenes, and the energies of people who should be fighting them are distracted by the circus.
This has been the entire goal of the GOP since Nixon, at least. The whole idea is to tell the big lie, make it a part of the public consciousness, and then move on to the next big lie. After a while, history is wiped out, truth has no meaning, and reality is whatever you wish it to be.
They have taken over the media and they have won and will continue to win the message war that’s been being waged for the last 40 years. I’m at a loss as to how to battle it after this election. The Real Merkins are just too stupid and lazy to face objective truths and they’re taking us all down with them. Idiot America, indeed.
It was so blatantly misdirection.
A 16 year old wouldn’t get away with this obvious a dodge, but conservative leaders did.
Conservative leaders were asked repeatedly what they planned to cut in the federal budget. They can’t answer that question, because it’s becoming increasingly obvious they won the midterms not on conservatism, or small government, but on protecting funding for a privatized entitlement, Medicare Advantage.
That’s what they ran on in key states, like Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Ohio, and perhaps most importantly, Florida. “Obama cut 500 billion from Medicare”. Conservatives ran on increased federal funding of an entitlement program.
Because they can’t answer that question, they created a lie and spread it, with Bachmann as the lead liar.
It worked, too. They needed only to avoid the question for three or four days, with a distraction, and they succeeded at that.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Maybe it’s time we stopped accepting the cynicism, which is just a cop out so that no one has to deal with the problem.
I’d guess that at least 40% percent of Americans still believe that Saddam had WMD’s and that an equal percentage believe that he had something to do with 9/11.
The persistence of the lies probably has something to do with the fact that they’re more titillating than the truth. I don’t know whether the conservatives have actually tumbled to this or (More likely) they’re just liars by nature.
They’re not working as designed if the decisions they reach offend the people who count. Come on, man – get with the program!
our media is a total failure. it’s too afraid of causing controversy and too interested in reporting it. it wants to be a forum where liars lie to each other unchecked, not a place where people can find information.
It’s interesting that conservatives only have lies. If anything conservatives believed actually had succeeded in the real world, they’d be touting that, and wouldn’t need their own propaganda network. Thirty years of conservatism in action, and all that’s left for them to do is lie bigger and louder. The scary part is the traditional bulwarks against this assault on reality are discredited, or have been co-opted. This country is in a very precarious place right now.
@kay: Gotta agree that the nontroversy was deliberate-and effective-at distracting from tough questions. I saw the Bachman interview live and it was obviously a misdirection.
It works because the news media is complicit and seems to have developed an aversion to following up on stories.
@kay: They dodged it momentarily, but I don’t think they can dodge it forever. If the Dems aren’t so dumb as to pass the Bush tax cuts in the lame duck session, it will come back around sooner rather than later.
Not only a legitimate part of the president’s portfolio, but in this case, a quite necessary one. India is the world’s largest democracy, one that shares both our immediate enemies (the islamists) and our long-term rival (China), which means that in cold, realist, Kissengerian terms, supporting them is as much of a no-fucking-brainer as supporting Britain was during World War Two.
Fucking logic, how does it work?
My neighbors and coworkers will never think there is any reason to doubt that Obama was spending $8 billion per day in India to give away jobs to India that would have gone to good white rural Americans.
Actually, the ones taking jobs away from Americans and starting them up in India would be, as always, U.S. companies, though trade agreements of course do pave the way for that to be done quicker. But with Obama it will be assumed to be a quid pro quo deal, as if Obama literally promised Manmohan Singh X number of jobs from some area which didn’t vote for him.
In some cases, Republicans ran attack ads saying that Democrats “increased the size of government”, then in the exact same ad attacked them for $500 billion dollar cuts to Medicare.
It’s truly astounding how stupid people are, particularly seniors. I mean, for God’s sake – I’m paying your Social Security and Medicare… The least you can do is get off your ass and google “US Federal Budget”.
Also, Nancy Pelosi is the first Speak of the House ever to have traveled by plane, and she used her awesome powers to steal the money from American farmers to buy a gold-plated plane in order to journey back and forth from gay bars to DC.
@azlib: Mel Brooks had them pegged: “You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
And it is why (a) we can’t move fast enough to create a parallel media (places like this are a fragmentary start, but we ain’t at more than the blastocyst stage of the process yet…and
(b) why net neutrality is seriously important, because an open web is the enabling technology for capital poor media.
@jrg: One thing that bothers me is that I’m no “elite”, I just always was curious and to a degree skeptical and grew to suspect when the powerful were saying things which just didn’t make sense. I would read stuff, listen to various speakers, and some made more sense than others. I was often wrong and changed my mind, but I get tired — even though I know how things work in the real world and usually am most angry at the liars and betrayers of the public — of it being assumed that other people are only able to listen to Glenn Beck or talk radio or Fox News and be lied to. It’s not like they don’t have the internet at home, it’s so often that they’re using it exclusively for music, or shopping, or gaming, or just weird and funny stuff (or that other use), and I am supposed to assume that people can’t question this utter nonsensical bullshit and that only ‘elites’ like me can possibly figure it out.
Now, my main observation is that people shouldn’t live in a society where they perpetually have to figure their way through a thicket of lies, where every major source of information is presenting a mix of theme-driven falsehoods, representing crazy and right wing views as the norm and/or which needs consideration, in which only by spending a lot of time on so many subjects can a person understand what the hell is actually going on and who is using them to steal from them.
But sometimes I get tired of me knowing I have to do it and other people ignoring what should be their responsibility.
This was obvious from the get-go.
There’s no particular reason why such requests wouldn’t be continuing every year past 2020 or later.
@azlib: Uh, that outright lie about Gore inventing the internet was not made by fox but a washington post writer. I will never buy or read that rag again but the fox cancer has spread – even the NYT whores with the lie that everyone but the US of amerika does torture (be nice if their editors tried water boarding!) The race to the bottom has been running for years
I missed the trash police nontroversy so permit me this: I don’t want the city council giving monopolies to one cable company or phone company ever again. Remember those days? They sucked ass.
This is the way the Repugs want the Travel Office to run during a Democratic Administration
Maybe, but cutting these morons slack because they want to believe right-wing nonsense is like pity f*cking a fat person. I don’t care how many McRib commercials you saw last week: If you ate 6 of them before falling asleep on the couch, it’s your own goddamn fault you weigh 350 pounds.
@jrg: Please, the greediest generation doesn’t have the moral courage to learn the truth about themselves or the disaster they created. This country is becoming a total joke and covered with blood – killed over a 100,000+ Iraqi’s because bush wanted to one up his daddy to fuck his own mother – so he handed his office over to that butcher cheney (deficits don’t matter when we are in office) and ruined our economy by advancing the economic interest of the 5% elite over their base of stupid anti-christian fundamentalist and county hicks.
Now hundreds of millions will be displaced in the world (the poor who have done the least to cause the problem), and many million more will die all due to AGW and we through stupidity (repub-a-thugs) or indifference (demo-rats) have given control of the house to these low life asswipes that deny reality – I’d say we couldn’t sink any lower but 2012 is coming and things could still get far worse.
Maybe peak oil, if it really does come in the next ten years, will save us and the world from our stupidity- can only hope.
Let’s look at the right’s tactics just a little differently. Huckabee and all the right’s conservative media are paid to spread rumors about the president. They attack everything he says and does. They are the adult version of high school bullies.
If we’re ever going to stop bullying in schools, we have to stop it in adults first.
@El Cid: Glad you posted about it. I didn’t think it would get past the hive filter if I did.
One of the things that astounds me about the $200 million/day lie is the sheer obviousness and innumeracy of it.
Let’s say the president actually took 2000 people with him to India. A gross exaggeration no doubt, but, hey, let’s go with it.
Now let’s say we’re laying out $10,000 per day for each person on the trip. Also an obviously gross overestimate, but hey, why be difficult? Just go with the flow.
2000 x $10,000/day would only equal $10 million/day — if any of these numbers were remotely true, which they’re not.
So. We used grossly overestimated numbers for the people on the trip, and the cost per person per day, and we still only came up with $20 million/day. Where’s the other $180 million/day?
@JGabriel: you fixed one of them but forgot the second one.
ETA I asked one of my winger friends if he thought 2000 people would cost more than supporting the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan per day.
Surprisingly, didn’t get a response to that.
It went to the ACORN slush fund, of course. Duh.
I listen to cable news in the car. It’s amazing how much clearer it becomes without a visual.
I was listening to Morning Joe, and I heard both Joe Scarborough and Marc Halperin pull off a blatant misdirection. They were veering close to Medicare, and both men rushed to take it back to Social Security, except they don’t use the names of the programs.
It’s interesting what media and conservatives are doing. They’re conflating Medicare with Social Security (which is ridiculous on its face, the two programs have nothing in common and Social Security is on much firmer footing than Medicare) and not mentioning the name of either program. They’re using the phrase “entitlement spending”. I imagine the word “entitlement” is a negative, in perpetually outraged conservative voter circles, and “spending” is certainly negative.
Conservatives are wholly dependent on rhetorical devices and re-naming because they don’t have any actual ideas.
If you get rid of the pictures and the graphics and just listen it comes in so clear.
Yeah, I see. Thanks for pointing it out, too late to fix it though.
For those wondering what we’re talking about, the number 10 million in the fourth paragraph of #31 should be 20 million.
My math is good, but my typing sucks.
now now. i’ve been told many times, right here on BJ, that we’ll be completely out of Iraq by the end of 2011, and that not believing the schedule is sacrosanct is “nonsensical”, rooted in “hatred of Obama”, and the same as thinking Obama = Bush.
@El Cid: Which will last longer, the Bush tax cuts or the Bush troops in Iraq?
@cleek: Why do you hate the troops?
I give Huckabee half-credit for at least backing down. I don’t believe Bachmann, Malkin etc. have or ever will.
@Pangloss: Trick question!
Permanent and Infinity are equal!
I endorse every sentiment in this comment.
The disheartening thing is that it really feels like the culture of civic responsibility in this country is dead.
Now nostalgia is a powerful thing and perhaps I am remembering it all wrong, but I don’t recall growing up in a country where people either: (a) simply didn’t give a fuck about anything, or (b) were screaming 2-minute haters who had nothing to say that didn’t boil down to “me! me! me! mine! mine! mine!”. What the hell happened to all the people in the middle between those two options of total disengagement and pathological hyper-engagement – the folks who used to go around picking up trash off the ground and looking for a trash can to put it in just for the heck of it, when it wasn’t even in their neighborhood?
Somewhere along the line we lost track of the useful and necessary distinction between skepticism and cynicism, and slid from the uncertain and confusingly jumbled landscape of the former and into the black and greasy pit of the latter.
Reading comprehension is your friend:
Yes, clearly this is Gates coming right out and saying that we’re totally staying in Iraq and no one can make us leave. Geez.
@Mnemosyne: It’s truly amazing to me. You are flat out incapable of directly quoting anyone. Time after time after time you take what someone says clearly, reinterpret it in your head to fit your narrative, then spit it out here as if it’s a direct non fudged with statement by the original poster.
This was El Cid’s comment:
“There’s no particular reason why such requests wouldn’t be continuing every year past 2020 or later.”
Do you see the word “requests” right there? Do you?
“Without repercussion” is the key here? Why isn’t anyone standing up and mocking this garbage? It seems a ready-made opportunity for someone like Biden. Point out how foolish and uninformed the people are who are coming out with these lies. And do it quickly.
How could the Obama 2008 campaign be so quick on its feet, and yet the Obama administration so aloof and removed?
My reading of that passage is that Gates is holding out the carrot of a continuing US presence structured on Iraqi terms as leverage to try to get the warring factions in Iraqi to compromise with each other, and threatening that if they don’t do that then we aren’t going to play ball with any of them. That is important because one of more of the current factions in Iraq may be banking on being able to leverage US forces to suppress the other factions. Gates is signalling that we aren’t going to play kingmaker any more, but we are willing to reward (i.e. in the form of the cash flow which a continuing US footprint brings along) some sort of compromise power sharing arrangement.
My neighbors and coworkers will never think there is any reason to doubt that Obama was spending $8 billion per day in India to give away jobs to India that would have gone to good white rural Americans.
My problem with this argument is the sheer hypocrisy of it coming from conservatives (and the same for NAFTA).
Let’s look at your own (GOP) ideology. 1) the free market, on its own, will always find a balance that satisfies more people than if the government had interfered, which only messes things up. 2) tarriffs and other free trade barriers are the very prototype of government interference.
3) If jobs are getting outsourced to India, it’s because it’s more profitable for companies to move over there. If it’s more profitable for companies to move over there, it’s because you’re lazy and demanding and not willing to work hard for peanuts like the market demands.
If, that is, one assumes consistency in your own ideology. I know, it’s so much easier to rail about how President Darkie and his fellow darkies all got together and plotted your demise – your “Dolchstasse,” you might call it?
Please, the greediest generation doesn’t have the moral courage to learn the truth about themselves or the disaster they created.
Exhibit A; the people who sincerely feel humiliated and insulted by Obama’s “apology” because in their moral world, murdering a million Iraqis isn’t as bad as having your president go on air and admit you did it.
Yeah, I’d say that moral cowardice is the very root of the teabagger movement. Though it’s certainly not limited to one nation or generation… it’s rarely come to the forefront quite the way it’s doing right now.
The answer of course is sex. Let broadcasters show nudity and sex as freely as they can show violence and suddenly NOBODY will be watching BS news anymore. This will cause the ‘news’ to suddenly change to being nothing but celebrity sex tapes 24/7 and the actual political news will go back to only being 20 minutes of the day. (Unless a good looking politician gets his/her sex tape shown that day.)
@Tom Levenson: If you have any ideas about how to do this, please let us know! (no snark, I would love to hear any ideas in this direction)
@Mnemosyne: Hey, moron, yes, I read that bit.
Did I fucking say it was somehow exclusively Gates’ or the administration? I didn’t, but I still must be an irrational Obama hater or firebagger, just because I don’t think American foreign policy works the way people would rather think it does.
Besides, what would be the actual difference, in the real world? Let’s say the Iraqi government kept requesting troop aid forever. Let’s say that there is no sign that the US strongly disagrees. Is there some theoretical limit to how long the US presence will be continually invited to remain?
Is there any indication that Iraqi forces and the government will achieve realistic amounts of control over their territory? If not, what would be the purpose of not requesting continued troop presence?
@Chris: “My own” GOP ideology? Did you mean to suggest it was mine? If so, why?
Mistermix, since you were pushing the “all net neutrality supporters lost” story earlier, any chance of getting some coverage of he fact that the story was bogus and promoted by the broadband industry?
The “you” was directed in general at the people who spout this crap – a form of ranting into the wind I indulge in from time to time. Should have clarified it better, but no, you were not at any point accused of GOP loyalties.
Reading the quote, this sounds a heckuva lot more like Gates saying, “You guys had better clean up your act because we ain’t staying to do it for you” than it sounds like him saying that he plans to stay past the deadline. I would be worried if Gates said that he was considering keeping the troops in Iraq because of the continuing instability, but he actually said the opposite of that.
Basically what Gates has set up is that if Iraq is unstable, then we leave. But if Iraq is stable then … we leave, because they don’t need us anymore. I’m still not sure how you’re getting “endless war!” out of Gates saying he’s willing to discuss the matter only with a fully functioning Iraqi government.
I guess what I do want to clarify is that when I hear statements like that, I don’t believe them.
Every US official in the relevant hierarchy can swear that we will only stay under X conditions, and then it will just as likely turn out so that no matter what actually appears to be happening on the ground, either condition X is fulfilled (i.e., it will be put forth that the Iraqi government is functional enough to once again request a year of US presence) or new condition Y means departure must be delayed.
So, in other words, absolutely nothing that the administration can say will convince you. The fact that 2/3rds of the troops have already been pulled out only convinced you that the rest will be staying indefinitely.
You’re not one of those people who insists that as long as there are 50 American advisers inside the borders of Iraq, that means that OBAMA LIED and we’re still occupying the country, are you? If we get down to, say, less than 1,000 Americans inside the country, will you at least be willing to concede that we’re on our way out?