Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Lying Game

An interesting and informative piece appeared in the LATimes. It helps explain how the truth eventually gets out.

We have a president who lies as a normal way of doing business. The mouth opens and a new lie comes out. Later, when the lie is pointed out to him, he denies he said it or he reshapes the original lie into a new one. It’s like he is updating bad software with a new version that is bad but different. This happens every day, and events change the narrative every day so the president’s lies change every day.

Because he is the President of the United States this has the disorienting effect of reshaping reality every day, sometimes hour by hour during the day. And his family and his officials do the same, often contradicting each other. The president sends his proxies out to defend something he has said or done and once the defense has been made he, the president, contradicts his defenders. When asked about it the proxies deny they have been contradicted. There is no contradiction because only the president’s truth is true, and only version that is true is the one that has not been contradicted yet.

It is a bizarre kind of theatre. If it were taking place in a single individual, friends and relatives would urge a psychological evaluation, but the insanity is not confined to one person. The person with the problem has infected us all. The advisors and trusted friends who should have, on compassionate grounds, confined the ill person somewhere safe, where he could get the proper professional care and evaluation, are more interested in having the ill person continue in office. They prefer to reconfigure our democracy and our institutions and our security bureaus and our markets and the regulatory bodies that keep our markets honest and safe, reconfiguring everything to conform to this one person's insanity which they insist is not insane at all, because what he thinks defines reality, so how could he be insane?

While Americans are forced to contort their perception of reality to make sense of what is happening they are also forced to clean out their bullshit detectors many times a day. This takes time. It fills our homes and offices with bullshit that we are processing and putting in the trash. All of this bullshit impairs our ability to function because we aren’t sure what to believe, or whether truth and facts matter anymore. Americans stop paying attention when things stop making sense. This pleases the people in the White House, and in Moscow. The Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader seem pleased too.

Because the president is constantly, visibly and embarrassingly divorced from reality things stop making sense for all of us. The behaviors of our executive branch and their allies in the Congress become illogical and unreliable too. The career professionals in our government continue to do their jobs as best they can, they persist in basing their actions on the old fashioned “reality-based” norms and procedures, but their effectiveness is inhibited by Republicans who call them “the deep state” and characterize their honesty as dishonesty and their professionalism as a kind of evil, even though these public service professionals conduct themselves according to rules and traditions set forth in the Constitution, rules and traditions established by the Founders and continued by other patriotic figures in our long national history. These Republican dystopians shout about their loyalty to the Founders and the Constitution while simultaneously discrediting everything they bequeathed to us.

How does this happen? How does the president get away with it? Why do his party allies let him get away with it? Why do they help him lie instead of getting him to be honest? The president bases his ability to lie on a sense of impunity. He lies. We know he is lying. It can be proven he is lying. But his followers don’t believe any evidence or proofs against him, they only believe him. In Trump America (which still seems to include most of the Republican Party) there is no truth but Trump’s version and there is no law except Trump’s law. Trump’s impunity isn’t only contingent upon his followers believing every lie he utters. His impunity also flows from the power of his office. 1. The president is immune from prosecution. 2. The president can pardon anyone without restraint or permission from anyone. Which means he can get away with it and everyone he stays loyal to can get away with it too. But his loyalty isn’t guaranteed to anyone, even if they are loyal to him. Trump’s loyalty is contingent and is only there if it helps Trump. This is why everyone in the White House is knifing everyone else. This, by the way, is how Rome fell. Of course here and in this century it might happen more quickly.

In a legal dystopia like Trump America the ordinary sinews and muscles of our legal system, which prosecutes criminal organizations, are somewhat paralyzed. Targets who might cooperate with prosecutors to testify against others in the criminal conspiracy are given another way out of legal jeopardy: the president can pardon them if they shut up. Also, because the Justice Department seems like it might be partially entangled in the criminal conspiracy, there is the possibility that Trump officials are misdirecting or underfunding or discouraging investigations or tipping off targets in advance so that extemporaneous bonfires can be arranged in backyards and witnesses can be pushed out of fourth story windows.

Helping journalistic investigations has its own perils. The high Republican source who informed the recent Wall Street Journal bombshell about Russians dealing in hacked DNC and Clinton material died suddenly. There’s no proof that his suicide was not a voluntary one, but considering what Russians do to witnesses and news sources they don’t like it’s not outrageous to wonder. The main argument against skulduggery is the account being carefully distributed through Republican channels. If the Russians were involved he would have fallen from a great height or been run down by a black Mercedes. It remains mysterious the way so much of what has happened since Trump’s escalator ride in 2015 remains mysterious. It takes a long time to prove things, especially when the people governing this country don’t believe in facts or truth––or are afraid of them. In some countries it takes generations for an honest society to be removed and replaced by a dishonest one. History has many unhappy examples. In the 21st century this process might go more quickly.

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