The Donkey Is Sleeping Today

Meg, Lies and Videotape

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Donkey Ad Watch, Idiocracy, Message/Framing, Politics, Propaganda on July 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I used to think that facts matter. You remember facts. The things that actually exist. Yup, I used to think that people could look at the facts objectively and see, for instance, that the reason they’re soaking wet is because they’ve been standing in the rain without an umbrella for over an hour. Or the reason we’re in such a deep debt hole is primarily because of the dynamic duo of Bush Tax Cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I know the “very serious people” have decided to make national debt a hot topic these days (and why now, again?) but this chart should make that discussion pretty short. Simply get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and let the Bush Tax Cuts lapse at the end of the year and we will be back on the road to fiscal health (even Alan Greenspan agrees – look!)

Here’s another doozie of a chart that makes up look down and blue look red. It charts the increase in the national debt per president since before Jimmy Carter took office.


So, you mean that the notion of  “tax and spend Democrats” has no basis in reality? In fact the exact opposite is true: Republican presidents have run HUGE deficits compared to their Democratic counterparts. Where are those facts being touted in the “liberal” media?

This all brings me to Meg Whitman and her strategy to become the next governor of the Golden State. Last month E-Meg’s campaign put out this incredibly well-crafted buzz saw of an ad that lit up Jerry Brown like that awesome bag of weed we smoked when Moonbeam was elected in the 70’s.

Even KABC could wrestle this one down:

This is only one example. Lying is blanketed across Meg Whitman’s ads which have been criticized by factcheck.org and California Working Families. But this isn’t a big deal. It’s not the end of the world because facts will win the day, right?

Not so fast. The Oracle, Digby, referenced an article from the Boston Globe this week which will mess with your sense of right and wrong, literally: (emphasis mine)

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

Go on:

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

And then this:

On its own, this might not be a problem: People ignorant of the facts could simply choose not to vote. But instead, it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions.

So, we all know that there are lies. And when lies become memes and memes become policy then most everyone suffers, certainly the “small people” who lose our jobs, homes, retirements, and lives. The fact-deniers have known this for a long time. They’ve had decades of success getting their way by systematically lying which culminated in the Orwellian double speak which the Bush Administration took to new (and destructive) heights.

So at the end of the day, it’s simply a strategy. And, sadly, an effective one at that. If you keep telling lies to people who want to believe them they will continue believing the lies. They will also become the most passionate advocates of that lie because of the magic of the human brain. And the great part is that if the truth heads their way they will defend the lies with their lives. Often literally. It is that basic to human behavior.

Meg Whitman has chosen to follow this path. Lying as a strategy. Like dinner parties and fund raisers. Like Twitter and Facebook. She’s not the first, but she may be one of the best.

And I’m afraid it will work.

– SH

8/24 UPDATE: See our new ad that skewers Meg Whitman’s voting record here.

7/17 Update: Even the LA Times has picked up on the up on the fact that Meg lies with impunity in this story. She is full steam ahead in her “Campaign Which Facts Forgot” tour. They report on the “new” policy proposal booklet Meg put out yesterday:

The booklet, which features glossy pictures and graphics, is a mixture of Whitman’s policy proposals and criticisms of Brown. It contains some of the same falsehoods that have been featured in Whitman’s television ads or statements.

It continues:

The booklet is also disingenuous in its discussion of the economic conditions during Brown’s two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983. It says Brown left the state with “record high” unemployment rate of 11.1%, Unemployment was higher both during the Great Depression and today, and the booklet fails to note that his departure coincided with a recession in which joblessness rose nationwide.

“It’s not new, it’s the same as her old one, just with more pictures, which I didn’t think was possible,” Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said. “The attacks on Jerry are old lies, new format.”

7/17 Update: First she lies, then she spies. From the Sacramento Bee via the Miami Herald.

The leaders of the California Nurses Association had barely wrapped up a news conference recently slamming GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman when they learned Whitman’s campaign had been watching them the whole time.A volunteer for the Republican had sneaked into the event held at the union’s downtown Oakland headquarters and sent live streaming video back to the campaign nearly 50 miles away in Cupertino. Within hours, Whitman aides were blasting to supporters an e-mail response to the event that featured clandestine video snippets.

The entire article is here.

7/19 Update: The horns are sounding. Seems like more people every day are on to eMeg. Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts have an excellent list of eMeg’s prevarications here and on their HuffPo piece this morning entitled “The Death of Truth: eMeg and the Politics of Lying” which details her flip-flops:

Indeed, when it comes to killing truth, eMeg is miles ahead in felony flip-floppery. The pro-Brown California Working Families tried to drive that point home last week with the release of an online ad titled “Lies.” detailing just a few recent examples of Megspeak:

  1. Great post! Those charts need to be displayed front and center on every democratic political ad, as well as by progressive news hosts anytime they bring a Tea Partier on spouting off about deficits and socialism.

    Keep up the good work!

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