Thoughts On: Why Do So Many Americans Believe the Lies Pushed by the GOP?
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thomhartmann Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.) Thursday September 29, 2022
image above: 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay
WN: What can I say? The author of the article below brilliantly and pointedly demolishes The Big Lies of the GOP. I’m Canadian. I ain’t partisan. But I do pay attention to U.S. politics. And I am a truth-seeker and have a highly sensitive bullshitometer at my disposal . . .
If you want one too, they are free–for the reading of this website . . .
Prominent Republicans are digging in against American support for Ukraine despite Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons and evidence of mass graves and war crimes facilitated by Moscow.
The Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday tweeted — and then hours later deleted — a message that called on Democrats to “end the gift-giving to Ukraine” while featuring a fluttering Russian flag. The tweet also referred to “Ukraine-occupied territories,” appearing to legitimize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims to annex provinces based on a referendum that the U.S. and allies view as illegal.
At the Michigan rally, Trump suggested he could have prevented Putin from invading Ukraine.
“That war would never ever have happened if I were president and it didn’t happen,” Trump said.
As discerned from the get-go, Trump ever aspires to the strongman image of a Putin, an Orbán, a Jong-Un (however ugly, brutal and not in real life they all are). And it seems the GOP is all-in on this as well.
As to GOP Liars, (Inc.), the party that is in on The Big Lie about denial of Trump’s 2020 election loss, not unsurprisingly abounds in a vast array of “lesser” (but no such thing, really) lies as in this story: ‘Pro-Life’ Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, by Roger Sollenberger |Political Reporter, Oct. 04, 2022. We read:
Herschel Walker, the football legend now running for Senate in Georgia, says he wants to completely ban abortion, likening it to murder and claiming there should be “no exception” for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
But the Republican candidate has supported at least one exception—for himself.
A woman who asked not to be identified out of privacy concerns told The Daily Beast that after she and Walker conceived a child while they were dating in 2009 he urged her to get an abortion. The woman said she had the procedure and that Walker reimbursed her for it.
She supported these claims with a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic, a “get well” card from Walker, and a bank deposit receipt that included an image of a signed $700 personal check from Walker.
The woman said there was a $125 difference because she “ball-parked” the cost of an abortion after Googling the procedure and added on expenses such as travel and recovery costs.
Additionally, The Daily Beast independently corroborated details of the woman’s claims with a close friend she told at the time and who, according to the woman and the friend, took care of her in the days after the procedure.
After The Daily Beast reached out to the Walker campaign for comment, Robert Ingram, a lawyer representing both the campaign and Walker in his personal capacity, responded.
“This is a false story,” Ingram said in a phone call, adding that he based that conclusion on anonymous sources.
“All you want to do is run with stories to target Black conservatives,” he said. “You focus on Black conservatives.”
Ingram asked The Daily Beast to disclose the identity of the woman, but we declined.
After the story published, Walker released a statement in which he called the story a “flat-out lie” and said he denied it in the “strongest possible terms.”
“I’m not taking this anymore. I planning [sic] to sue The Daily Beast for this defamatory lie. It will be filed tomorrow morning,” he said.
Meanwhile, Herschel’s adult son, Christian Walker, lashed out on Twitter—in defense of The Daily Beast and against his father.
“Every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew (some of) his past. Every single one,” Walker tweeted.
“He decided to give us the middle finger and air out all of his dirty laundry in public, while simultaneously lying about it.
According to the $575 receipt, the abortion took place on Sept. 12, 2009. And according to the Bank of America deposit receipt, Walker wrote the woman a check for $700 on Sept. 17, 2009. The check was deposited two days later.
This is consistent “Christian” (un)truth-telling in the GOP . . . After all, didn’t Jesus say, “I am the UnTruth . . .“? (from the GOP Standard Bible Translation).
According to American political journalist Michael Gerson, political hypocrisy is “the conscious use of a mask to fool the public and gain political benefit”.] (Wikipedia). “Hypocrisy” is from the Greek, hypokrites, meaning “stage actor.”
The Grand Old Political (Hypocrisy) Party (GOP(H)P) is shot through with Stage Actor Rabble Syndrome (SARS–the original!) like no other.
In a pair of two-minutevideo monologues posted to social media on Tuesday morning, Herschel Walker’s adult son Christian Walker stepped up the attacks on his father, keeping the focus on his dad’s past and saying everything he’s running on has been “a lie.”
It’s almost like Republicans don’t actually have a consistent moral compass, they just want to control women.
Everyone is entitled to make mistakes. Everyone is entitled to a less-than-perfect past. But I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here when I say that a history of domestic violence allegations, a bunch of secret children, and several examples of being a raging hypocrite and shameless liar ought to preclude you from a political career. It certainly ought to preclude you from having any right to preach at people about morality or family values.
So will the new revelations about Walker sink his political aspirations? Sadly, I doubt it. Walker, after all, is hardly the first Republican to have shown himself to be a raging hypocrite. Indeed, it’s almost a job requirement. He’s certainly not the only Republican whose stance on abortions can be summed up as: OK for me, evil for thee. There are a number of anti-abortion zealots who have been outed as having encouraged the women in their life to get abortions. It’s almost like Republicans don’t actually have a consistent moral compass, they just want to control women.
Indeed, there is already ample evidence that Republicans seem unbothered by Walker’s past: following the Daily Beast’s revelations party representatives closed ranks behind their embattled candidate. Donald Trump himself stepped in to claim that Walker is being maligned by the “Fake News Media”. Meanwhile Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, proclaimed: “This election is about the future of the country. Herschel Walker will make things better; Raphael Warnock [the Democrat he is standing against] is making it worse. Anything else is a distraction.”
The woman came forward Wednesday during a shocking virtual press conference hosted by her attorney, Gloria Allred, during which she read a statement detailing their yearslong romantic relationship and saying that she was protecting her identity not because she was “a coward,” but “to protect the ones I love.”
“Herschel Walker is a hypocrite, and he is unfit to be a U.S. Senator,” the unnamed woman said.
“Herschel Walker says he is against women having abortions but he pressured me to have one,” she said. The woman explained she was motivated to come forward after watching Walker deny previous allegations by another woman who claimed that he had paid for her abortion in 2009.
“And particularly, I saw him state that the woman’s claims were not true because he never signed any cards using the letter ‘H.’ I knew that was not true because he had often signed letters to me using ‘H,’” she said. Allred provided three love notes Walker had signed with an “H.”
Yes, both of these men are apparently struggling with cognitive issues arising from health challenges, but they are not the same in any way. You might say, well, Republicans are supporting Walker because he represents their political beliefs, but my reply would be, how would you even really know? There were plenty of more qualified Republican Senatorial candidates in Georgia (not talking about the Trump twins Loeffler and Perdue) but Walker’s celebrity just crowded them out. In a pinch, no one knows how he would react unless it involved running a football down the halls of the Capitol. It’s moot, however, because Republican leaders have admitted in public that their support for him is not contingent on his principles or actions, but only because he will enhance their political power.
On the other hand, I have little doubt that Fetterman would do the things I understand as necessary and right as a senator, and do so with courage even in a crisis. Would Mehmet Oz have had the guts to debate even while recovering from the effects of a stroke? I doubt Oz would have showed up if he had gotten a bad haircut from whatever guy in New Jersey styles his hair. What Fetterman did was a remarkable show of fortitude and courage, even if he stumbled a few times in doing it. And his principles are what I’m looking at, not his appearance.
Under normal circumstances, allegedly paying for an abortion would be a deal-breaker for Christian voters—and simultaneously posing as a pro-life champion would be adding insult to injury. But the concept of forgiveness is near and dear to the hearts of Christians. The whole point of being “born again” is that you are a new creation. This is to say that regardless of whether Walker’s redemption story is true, it’s potent.
Please click on the Sean Hannity interview about his denials here. I wonder if Walker has any idea of who “The Lord Jesus Christ” is, that he is talking about in the interview! But I do know my Bible, that includes this:
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7)
Over to you, Herschel . . . And indeed, at the risk of condemnatory judging, (Matthew 7), there is a place to call out behaviours–but never condemn the person!–for what they are . . .1
Then, of course, there’s The Donald–who in his behaviours presents as The Ultimate Liar/Maligner/Ugly American himself 2:
Donald Trump has—unsurprisingly—waded into the controversy surrounding The Daily Beast’s exclusive report on Monday that anti-abortion absolutist and GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker once paid for a girlfriend’s abortion. Walker, who was handpicked by Trump to run against incumbent Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, is “being slandered and maligned by the Fake News Media, and obviously, the Democrats,” Trump complained in a statement posted Tuesday to his flailing social media platform, Truth Social. Ignoring the tsunami of credible accusations that have emerged against Walker from people such as his son, including claims that the former football great threatened to kill members of his own family, Trump said he believes Walker’s denials and claimed he has “heard many horrible things about” Warnock, without any evidence to back it up. “[When] you see the name Herschel Walker when voting, it will be very hard to resist,” the twice-impeached ex-president went on. “Don’t!”
A Connecticut jury on Wednesday ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion to relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, who endured relentless threats and harassment as the Infowars owner repeatedly claimed the shooting was a hoax staged by “crisis actors.”
There will be more Alex Jones in this world, but what they learned here today is that they absolutely will be held accountable.
Jones and Infowars parent company, Free Speech Systems, were ordered to pay $965 million to family members of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent who responded to the scene of the December 14, 2012 Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting in which 26 people—including 20 elementary school students—were murdered.
Judgments against Jones and his company ranged from $28 million to $120 million.
“There will be more Alex Jones in this world, but what they learned here today is that they absolutely will be held accountable,” said Erica Lafferty, mother of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, after she was awarded $76 million.
Please also see this powerful clip, “We Don’t Need a Walker!”, with this introduction:
A Black megachurch pastor delivered the kind of endorsement of Sen. Raphael Warnock that only a Black pastor could provide, and Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker, a clown of a candidate, gave that pastor all the fuel he needed to spit pure fire. Dr. Jamal Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, gave the people a two-minute-and-16-second analysis of race and politics in the South, highlighting historic wins of Warnock, Sen. Jon Ossoff, and President Joe Biden, whose presidential victory in Georgia represented the first time the state has backed a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992.
There is also this, in which Obama and the host Bryan Tyler Cohen, compare Walker’s football career to (thought experiment) flying an airplane etc.:
Donald Trump is still insisting he won the 2020 election, despite having lost by about 7 million votes and being wiped out in the Electoral College.
Science, it turns out, is on his side.
Not the science of elections: the science of propaganda.
New findings from psychologists at universities in California and Georgia and published in the journal Cognitive Research show that the more often a statement — regardless of its truthfulness — is repeated, the more emphatically it’s believed.
The researchers noted:
“Repeated information is often perceived as more truthful than new information. This finding is known as the illusory truth effect, and it is typically thought to occur because repetition increases processing fluency. Because fluency and truth are frequently correlated in the real world, people learn to use processing fluency as a marker for truthfulness.”
While modern science is affirming this truism, it’s been in use a long time. In the past century, for example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called out his day’s Republicans for using what we today call the Big Lie around several issues. Running for re-election in 1944, he said:
“The opposition in this year has already imported into this campaign a very interesting thing, because it is foreign. They have imported the propaganda technique invented by the dictators abroad. Remember, a number of years ago, there was a book, Mein Kampf, written by [Adolf] Hitler himself.
“The technique was all set out in Hitler’s book–and it was copied by the aggressors of Italy and Japan. According to that technique, you should never use a small falsehood; always a big one, for its very fantastic nature would make it more credible–if only you keep repeating it over and over and over again.”
Back then Republicans were lying that Democrats had caused the Republican Great Depression (as it was called until the 1950s) and that FDR had “failed” to adequately prepare America for war with Germany or Japan (while Republican after Republican took to the floor of Congress to tell us, before the War, that “we can do business with Hitler”).
Now Trump’s lies (like about the election) are parroted daily by Republican politicians and usually echoed in the media without push-back. After all, Trump reportedly slept with a collection of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside: he would be fluent in Hitler’s Big Lie strategy.
Besides the addition of Trump’s lies, Republican lies haven’t changed a lot since FDR’s era, although they’re more focused and now repeated daily by thousands of rightwing websites, bloggers, podcasts, Fox “News,” and talk radio shows.
Over the past 40 years, Republican billionaires have built an extraordinary nationwide media propaganda machine. Their goal was directed towards justifying tax cuts for the morbidly rich and the deregulation of polluting industries, but now it’s been taken over by Trump acolytes promoting, among other lies, the idea the Democrats torture children and drink their blood.
The “useful idiots” in this scheme have been the American corporate and billionaire-owned media, who dutifully echo or leave unchallenged the GOP’s regular lies.
One of the Republicans most egregious lies — that America is evenly split 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats and on the issues of the day — was most recently repeated during the last moments of Jake Tapper’s Sunday show on CNN this past weekend. Without a single word of push-back from the show’s host.
While the Senate may be split 50/50, Democrats in the Senate represent over 40 million more Americans than do Republicans. And on issues like tax cuts for billionaires, the right to unionize, access to Medicare/Medicaid, climate change, the right to abortion, privatizing Social Security, drug prices, Medicaid expansion, and the minimum wage Americans are overwhelmingly on the side of Democrats.
So how did so many Americans end up believing the many lies that are daily pushed by the GOP?
In a word: repetition, just like the science shows works. Here are a few of their greatest hits, with each followed by my rebuttal:
The idea that tax cuts for the rich and corporations would produce prosperity was a lie from the beginning and still is, but Republicans are still repeating it after nearly 50 years of disastrous experience withneoliberal Reaganomics.
*”Tax cuts produce prosperity.”
In a massive study funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice, published by the University of Wisconsin at Madison, scientistsdiscoveredAmerican citizens are 200% to 400% more likely to commit violent felonies against persons, drug crimes, and felony property crimes than immigrants, regardless of their immigration status.
*”Immigrants bring crime.”
When researchers decided to seriously dig into the topic, theyfoundthat a massive 10% increase in the minimum wage may have as much as a .1% — one-tenth-of-one-percent, or ten cents on a $100 product — impact on inflation, but that’s never been recorded in American history. Wages simply aren’t that large a part of the price of most goods and even most services.
*”Increasing the minimum wage worsens inflation.”
When they’re successful, however, union bosses do reduce corporate profits by forcing companies to give their workers better pay and benefits. Which is why corporations are willing to pay millions of dollars a day, in some cases, to bring in these high-powered law firms to intimidate workers.
*”Union bosses are bleeding workers dry.”
On the other hand, if you define “corrupt” as Republican elections officials purging millions of voters — most people of color, students, city-dwellers, and the working poor — from the voting rolls, then maybe there’s some truth to it. But that’s not the line Republicans are selling.
*”American elections are corrupt.”
This is one of the deadliest lies Republicans promote. A massive 2014 study published in The Annals of Internal Medicinefoundthat having a gun in the home doubles the risk of residents of that home being victims of homicide and triples the risk of successful suicide
*”Guns will keep your home safe.”
America, in fact, was the first democracy in the world that was founded in an entirely and explicitly secular fashion. The only prominent Founder who promoted the idea of America as a Christian nation was “Give me liberty or give me death” Patrick Henry, who was both Virginia’s largest slaveholder and refused to sign the Constitution when it was finished in the fall of 1787.
*”America is a Christian nation as the Founders intended.”
Like with the gun industry, the fossil fuel industry pays their politicians very well, and, since the Supreme Court legalized political bribery with theirCitizens Uniteddecision and its predecessors, that money has worked to hold the GOP in the blood-stained clutches of the industry.
And now these Republican lies about climate change threaten all life on Earth.
*”Global warming is junk science and CO2 is good for plants so we need more of it.”
So much happened during the Trump administration that Americans can be forgiven for forgetting that Trump, in 2019, promised Chinese President Xi that he wouldn’t object if Xi brutally crushed the Hong Kong independence movement. . .But in the meantime, the democracy movement in Hong Kong was completely crushed and its advocates are now dead or in prison.
*”Republicans favor democracy around the world instead of dictatorships and are particularly tough on China.”
Over the past 40 years, our media has been largely complicit, echoing these Republican BigLies. It’s well past time for American media to take its responsibility to present the truth seriously.
Every one of these lies, among others, are vigorously promoted by GOP-aligned media.
Their constant repetition has led average Republicans to fervently believe them, to the detriment of both the United States and, particularly with climate change, the future of life on Earth.
FDR was right to call out the Republican Party for their Big Lie strategy back in the day. Tragically, he was 80 years too early for today’s Americans to realize the long, deep roots of the modern GOP’s propaganda strategy.
But his consistent response to his son that he “loves him”–clearly stated–, and his refusal to go after him, is indeed Christlike!
And see also:
Paradoxically, the evil one can also speak the truth to us, yet he does so only to condemn us. We know that God’s truth does not condemn, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us. That truth always presents itself to us like the merciful father in Jesus’ parable (cf. Lk 15:11-32). It comes out to meet us, restores our dignity, sets us back on our feet and rejoices for us, for, as the father says: “This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (v. 24).–APOSTOLIC LETTER | PATRIS CORDE, OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS,
ON THE 150th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE PROCLAMATION OF SAINT JOSEPH
AS PATRON OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH[↩]
Donald Trump’s so-called big lie is not big because of its brazen dishonesty or its widespread influence or its unyielding grip over the Republican Party. It is not even big because of its ambition — to delegitimize a presidency, disenfranchise millions of voters, clap back against reality. No, the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election has grown so powerful because it is yoked to an older deception, without which it could not survive: the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.
The big lie depends on the big joke. It was enabled by it. It was enhanced by it. It is sustained by it.[↩]
Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.
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