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Flooding the Zone with Bullshit

All politicians lie. So do the rest of us. What separates our two main political parties is that only one of them lies a lot. It’s part of their modus operandi. You won’t find Republicans admitting it’s their guiding strategy, but at least one did. From VOX:

We’re in an age of manufactured nihilism…..I call this “manufactured” because it’s the consequence of a deliberate strategy. It was distilled almost perfectly by Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and chief strategist for D____ T____. “The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon reportedly said in 2018. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

What we’re facing is a new form of propaganda that wasn’t really possible until the digital age. And it works not by creating a consensus around any particular narrative but by muddying the waters so that consensus isn’t achievable.

My theory is that Republicans lie so much for two reasons. Big elements of their policy agenda — like low taxes on the rich and cutting Social Security and Medicare — aren’t popular, so it helps to avoid the truth. It’s also the easiest way to stop Democrats from getting anything done. Democrats tend to think government can make people’s lives better. Republicans tend to disagree. Republican icon Ronald Reagan once said the most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. No Democrat would ever say that. The result is that some people, helped along by Fox News, Facebook, etc., believe the lies and others don’t know what to believe.

We’re witnessing an example of Republican lies and obfuscation right now. So far, the Lord of Mar-a-Lago and his supporters have suggested that Biden personally ordered the FBI search of the premises; that T____ had a perfect right to take those highly sensitive documents to Florida and not return them when the government wanted them back; that he needed them for his work; that he didn’t take them, the FBI agents planted them there during the “search”; that T____ could have declassified all those documents; yet there was an informal standing order that any document taken from the White House was automatically declassified (although nobody in the White House followed up on that informality and it would be irrelevant even if it were true, since the laws in question don’t say anything about whether documents are classified); and one of the latest: the White House staff didn’t pack them up, it was the General Services Administration, so I guess it was their fault the stuff went to Mar-a-Lago and were never returned.

Flooding the zone with bullshit.

Here are two other recent examples that got me thinking about this. The first pertains to the mysterious Mar-a-Lago documents. From The Washington Post:

When it comes to the sheer embrace of innuendo and a concerted lack of logical consistency, it’s difficult to top the latest entry….. In recent days, D____ T____ and conservative media have debuted a new whataboutism defense: What about Obama?

Several Fox News shows on Wednesday picked up on a New York Post column that noted Barack Obama at the end of his presidency had 30 million records shipped to Chicago for his presidential library. “They shipped 30 million pages of sensitive and possibly classified materials to Chicago, and, by the way, he has yet to return any of it to the National Archives. Not one page,” Fox host Sean Hannity intoned. “So is his house about to get raided?”

Former T____ campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon added: “Are there SWAT teams descending on Chicago to get those documents? No. And so the double standard and triple standard here is very apparent”….

But there’s no evidence Obama has hidden anything from the Archives or that he didn’t go through the processes required to share and protect those documents once they left Washington.

And on Friday, after T____ raised the issue again, the Archives sought to put an end to the charade. It issued a statement outlining these facts and assuring that it has custody of classified documents:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA). NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.

In other words, there’s no parallel.

And from the Crooked Media newsletter, one more:

Two days ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted “Do you make $75,000 or less? Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you—with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k.” He was parroting talking points from basically every conservative politician and commentator that the Inflation Reduction Act’s $80 billion appropriation for the Internal Revenue Service means more taxes and more audits for middle-class Americans.

And it’s just not fucking true. The 87,000 agents figure was plucked from a Treasury report from May 2021, not even used in the Inflation Reduction Act. The facts are these: the IRS has been systematically defunded for decades, and total staff is currently equal to what it was during World War II, when the U.S. population was less than half what it is now. Much of the funding will go towards rehiring due to the fact that over half(!) the current IRS staff is eligible for retirement in the next five years.

Onto the audits: IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who was appointed by D____ T____, said in an August 4 letter to lawmakers that after the bill was approved, “audit scrutiny” would not be raised on small businesses or middle-income Americans. Rettig, I repeat: a T____ appointee, said, “The proposal would direct that additional resources go toward enforcement against those with the highest incomes, rather than Americans with actual income of less than $400,000.” Which is, you know, exactly what Democrats have been saying this whole time…..

Wealthy Republican lawmakers and pundits have a vested interest in killing any tax bill that targets them, and they use this same playbook of spuriously insisting that the middle class will suffer every time.

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