Friday, August 31, 2012

The United States of Wonderland

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for August 31, 2012

The demagogue is one who preaches doctrine he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.
        H.L. Mencken

             Are you kidding me?  That’s all I could think of as I watched hour after hour of the brain-scrambling Republican convention.  Are you kidding?
            True, when someone starts out with a lie, it’s always fun to see where they’re going to go from there without constantly stepping in it, unless they’re a Republican and stepping in something as mundane as a “lie” has apparently ceased to be a concern anymore.
            But three days of cynical mendacity combined with collective amnesia turned the convention into one long Saturday Night Live Emily Latella skit.  You remember Emily, Gilda Radner’s loopy old lady who kept getting things wrong, but that didn’t stop her from steaming off into outrage about some misperceived topic, like “violins in the street.”  When corrected that it was “violence, not violins,” she would squint unrepentantly at the camera and blithely change the subject.
            Only the Republican Party is no loopy, addled Emily.  Instead, what was on tap was a convention cynically built around a lie – the repeated and deliberate misstatement of a reference made in one of President Obama’s speeches.  In that speech, while the President lauded individual enterprise, he also pointed out the obvious:  Success isn’t strictly singular, that businesses benefited from communally built infrastructure and the “that” in “you didn’t build that,” reference was to “bridges, roads, etc.” which were built by taxpayers. 
            True, it was an awkward sentence, but the meaning was absolutely clear to anyone not language challenged.  Or a political party willing to disgracefully take that clear meaning out of context, twist it into a lie, brazenly plaster signs saying “We Built It,” all over the convention center and make that lie the singular leitmotif on the lips of almost every speaker at the podium. And even though they had to know it was a lie, they spoke it anyway. Which raised an awful question:  Who could possibly trust anything those guys say?
            But that wasn’t the worst of it.  What became truly creepy was the collective willingness of everyone to go down the memory hole. (It’s the internet age: does no one google FactCheck anymore?) This signal amnesia wasn’t just hypocrisy, like Delaware businesswoman, Sher Valenzuela, who lauded her “I Built It” successful business but “forgot” to mention it was aided by $2 million in (government funded) SBA loans and $15 million in (government funded) contracts.  Or the parade of  “I Built It” governors crediting their state’s recovery on their own singular efforts while ignoring the GM taxpayer bailout and all those Washington stimulus checks they happily cashed. (Talk about a gaggle of serpent-toothed ingrates chewing the hand that fed them.)
            No, this was not run of the mill hypocrisy at work, but a profound disconnect from the historical record, the factual narrative.  Listening to speaker after speaker spin their tales was like reading a complex historical novel from which Republicans had redacted any reference to their role in that story.  Down the memory hole they went, bemoaning the terrible state of affairs while utterly ignoring their part in creating the crisis and/or making the crisis infinitely worse.   There is a reason this Party-of-No, Do Nothing, Republican-led Congress is so loathed by the voters.  On day one of Obama’s election, Republican Senator McConnell clearly stated that his party’s one over riding goal wasn’t jobs or helping American workers retool or working across the aisle to set things right, but to get rid of Obama – throw the bum out of the bar, in the inelegant parlance of Speaker Boehner.  And it was the lock-step Republicans, monkey-wrenching Tea Partiers and a gaggle of Democratic hacks that brought pointless pain to millions of ordinary Americans caught in the crossfire of their spite, their destructive policies, fantasy math, and the overriding political strategy that keeping the country in dire straits would mean a guaranteed Republican win in 2012.
            All of which went missing for three nights of astounding amnesia and false narratives. That’s not normal hypocrisy, that’s pathology. And while you can campaign on lies and rabbit hole history, you can’t govern that way.
            Which is why, when Paul Ryan, the fresh-faced Leave It To Beaver veep nominee stood before the American people and repeated that foundational lie, a lie he had to know was false, then fell down the memory hole of “fake facts,” and Mitt Romney slid from a sweet, smiley-faced wish list of unsupported platitudes and into irresponsible, bellicose war-talk, and we were left with Anne Romney telling us we should “trust Mitt,” well, my only response had to be, “Are you kidding me?”
            Then my head exploded.




Sandra Gore said...

You are so brave to watch. Know thy enemy. I don't have the stomach for it. I get enough of the quotes on twitter to render me sad and depressed. Feel rather like a non-Nazi watching the minority crazies taking over Germany.Instead of God bless America, it's God help America. Of course, if there is a god,he would have washed his hands of the human race ages ago.

Texas Ranger said...

I am ashamed as an American to be haunted by this question: At what point did Germans willfully ignore Hitler's lies and just listen to his demagoguery? Because the road this country is on is perilous. No republic can survive when unmoored from a funamental respect for truth and facts. The Republicans especially embarked on this route of alienating truth, whether it's about taxed, or health care, or global warming, whatever.... long before Ryan and Romney, but this campaign and an all too complicit media and "journalists" who are harlots and camp followers more than watchdogs and gadflies, has yielded a mendacity that threatens us profoundly.The Harvard cheating scandal: It's not enough to be in the elite. Lie cheat steal and keep your status young Romneys and Ryans, just WIN at any price and your compatriots be damned.

Anonymous said...

No need to demonize Americans for expressing their opinions.

We all have a vote on election day; so use it and let our voices be heard.

Anonymous said...

To the idiot above who keeps saying, "We all have a vote on election day" every time someone voices an opinion they disagree with...

There is 67 days until the election. People are entitled to their opinion before the election, during the election, and after the election.

Anonymous said...

Above Anon,

I have not agreed or disagreed with any of the posters here.

I just state a fact:
All of us have a vote on election day; so vote your conscience.

Until then, say as you please, BUT POLITELY without name calling.

Anonymous said...

The author of this blog and her less than civil camp followers provide yet another example that now more than ever, this country needs a change of leadership away from such derision.

I will be voting for that change this November.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Let's not forget the power of presidents to nominate supreme court justices. We can see how well that has worked with the 4-5 decision to allow super PACs. A Republican president, in this era anyway (not in the past), can send women back to the 50s with an overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Ringbearer said...

Ann: Thank you old friend, for helping me realise that I'm NOT losing my mind.
-Lew Campbell

Billy Dunne said...

Anonymous 12:22PM is voting for change because "this country needs a change of leadership away from such derision."

Implying. seemingly, that for the past 4 years Republicans have not been derisive. Not at all. The model of civility. Pure class. Impeccably respectful of the office of the Presidency of the United States.

Good lord.

Hey Ann, why no mention of Romneycare at the convention? Why no mention, not a peep, about foreign policy, a Republican stronghold? Why no mention of the Republican platform, as scary a vision of ultra-conservative priciples and oppression as anyone has ever seen? Why no mention of Paul Ryan's "radical right-wing social engineering." (Thanks Newt, of all people)?"

And above all else, from the man whose slogan is "Believe in America," where are those pesky tax returns, so we all can see just how much Mittens DOES believe in America? When are we going to see those?

OOOps. Sorry. Was I being derisive?

Anonymous said...

To all those good folks that support the re-election of President Obama, I would welcome arguments supporting re-election based upon what President Obama has done, and will do, for America.

No need to demonize other Americans; just state the case for re-election focusing on President Obama himself and not what you think others will do.

Anonymous said...

"Until then, say as you please, BUT POLITELY without name calling."

I don't brake for opinion suppression, especially uneducated people who tell others to vote a day after the election.

Hope you get run over by a Romney campaign bus.

Anonymous said...

Anon above,

You can be uncivil all you want. No one is stopping you from expressing yourself.

Other than ridiculing those that you THINK oppose you, would you PLEASE outline (without reverting to demonizing others) the case for the re-election of President Obama. President Obama has stated that this is an election about 'Big Ideas'; so why not start by outlining what President Obamas big ideas are?

Anonymous said...

Google and get the answers yourself. You don't run this blog.

Lying to people about voting on the wrong day and telling people who weigh in civilly to not "demonize" others over and over and over again is not very "civil."

Anonymous said...

Apparently a few still don't understand that "they" don't run this blog either. But then, they have never been civil about any issue they disagree with.

Anonymous said...

I am all about civility.
We all have neighbors close and far; and all deserve respect and curtsey regardless of their point of view.

The anon that has issue with me may opine as they wish; but they do not seem to care that they have reach unfounded judgements as to my motives.

I am sincere. Vote your conscience on election day and be heard. All our votes matter. I hope we have a record voter turnout.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Isn't it up to Ann to decide who is or is not civil on HER BLOG? If you Anon above, don't like the tenor here, don't look, don't post.

It is funny how the discussion has veered over to this topic of "civility?"

If you haven't already read this, here is Fox News assessment of Ryan's speech:

It is REALLY worth a read.

Churadogs said...

Re Fox news on Ryan's speech. Yikes. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Fox news is the media arm of the RNC, so that had to sting. Wonder if the writer was quietly fired or sent to Siberia? Or does Roger Ailes have something else up his sleeve? The plot thickens.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

I guess we wait and see!