Laughable Lies

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the ignorance perpetuated by the Republicans and their megaphone, Fox News.  The lunacy is incredible and laughable, but what’s not quite as funny is that some 40% of the people in this nation don’t bother to assess what they hear, don’t take a minute to look for some facts to back up the opinions of the Republicans and their minions.  Perhaps the Republican Party would do better, have a bit of legitimacy, if they spent more time on developing a platform and less time on making up lies and conspiracy theories.  Anyway … Paul Krugman, writing for the New York Times, has written a piece mostly about the latest lie/fallacy/made-up story by Republicans attempting to discredit President Biden, and it’s well worth the read.


Beer, Brussels Sprouts, Bernie Madoff and Today’s G.O.P.

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

On Friday Larry Kudlow, who was Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, told Fox News viewers that Joe Biden’s climate plans would force Americans to stop eating meat. On July 4, he declared, you’d have to “throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled brussels sprouts.”

Kudlow’s remarks raise several questions. What, exactly, does he think beer is made from? Also, doesn’t he know that grilled brussels sprouts are, in fact, delicious?

More important, why would anyone believe this assertion about Biden’s plans, or expect anyone else to believe it? Why were Kudlow’s claims echoed by many Republicans, from Donald Trump Jr., to members of Congress, to the governor of Texas?

To answer this question, it helps to think about Bernie Madoff, the infamous fraudster who died April 14. Seriously.

About Biden and burgers: The administration has, in fact, said nothing at all about changing America’s diet. Furthermore, anything along those lines would be very much at odds with Biden’s whole approach to climate change, which is to rely much more on carrots than on sticks, to provide positive incentives to invest in low-emission technologies rather than discouraging emissions with taxes or regulations.

Whether that approach will prove sufficient is debatable, but it is the approach the administration is taking, and telling people to stop eating meat would be completely out of character.

So where is this coming from? Kudlow took his cues from a sleazy article in The Daily Mail, a right-wing British tabloid. The article didn’t actually assert that Biden is proposing to restrict meat consumption; instead, it offered a series of speculations about what might happen. Among other things it took the most extreme scenario from a University of Michigan study of how reduced meat consumption could affect greenhouse gas emissions — a study released in January 2020 that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Biden plans. The Daily Mail also used a deceptive graphic to make it seem as if this was an actual administration proposal.

American right-wing pundits and politicians then ran with it. Did they actually believe the nonsense they were spouting? Well, Kudlow’s apparent belief that beer is made with meat is arguably a point in his favor, an indication that he’s genuinely clueless rather than merely cynical.

What’s clear, however, is that neither Kudlow nor other Republicans touting an imaginary war on meat saw any need to check out their story, felt any concern that their audience — Fox News viewers, Republican voters — would find the claim that Joe Biden is coming for their red meat implausible.

Why not? That’s where Bernie Madoff comes in.

The revelations about Madoff’s immense Ponzi scheme and how he pulled it off introduced many of us to the concept of affinity fraud: scams that prey upon people by exploiting a sense of shared identity. Madoff defrauded wealthy Jews by convincing them that he was just like them.

A similar approach has long been an essential part of the Republican political strategy. As the party’s economic policies have become ever more elitist, ever more tilted toward the interests of the wealthy, it has sought to cover its tracks by running candidates who seem like regular guys you’d like to have a (meat-based?) beer with.

The flip side of this strategy is a continual attempt by the G.O.P. to convince voters that Democrats, who represent a much more diverse set of voters than Republicans, aren’t people like them; call it disaffinity fraud.

The goal is to portray Democrats as woke feminist vegetarians who don’t share the values of Real Americans. Hence the right’s obsessive focus on “cancel culture” and Democratic women of color, and the continual assertions that the white male senior citizen who leads the party is somehow a passive puppet.

Right-wing media are pushing this narrative nonstop. According to a Morning Consult poll last month, more Republicans said they’d heard “a lot” about the move to withdraw some Dr. Seuss books than said the same about Biden’s huge Covid-19 relief bill.

It doesn’t matter that Joe Biden isn’t actually trying to ban hamburgers or — to take another false claim right-wing pundits and politicians keep repeating — that he hasn’t “taken down” the border with Mexico. Republicans have pretty much given up even trying to make a case against Biden’s actual policies, let alone proposing serious policies themselves.

Instead, it’s all smears. Democrats, declared Kudlow, are “ideological zealots who don’t care one whit about America’s well-being.” That’s pretty rich coming from a man famed for his unwavering commitment to the doctrine that cutting taxes on the wealthy solves all problems, no matter how often his predictions fail.

But never mind; the point is that Kudlow and others consider it OK to throw out wild claims about what Democrats are up to, because those are the kinds of things woke liberals would do, aren’t they?

Will the public go along? The Biden administration thinks not, betting it can overcome the power of affinity fraud with policies that offer real benefits to working Americans. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this strategy will work.

12 thoughts on “Laughable Lies

    • You’re so right … if one can change one’s mind quickly, then apparently he (she) never had any values to begin with! This is why they say that politicians are like underwear … they should be changed often!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I thought the same, but then … I’m pretty sure he’s being realistic and in truth I’m not sure how much optimism I have left, either.

      The Murdoch family cannot have a change of heart, for they have no heart in the sense of the word you mean … they are more concerned about wealth (their own) than conscience. So, the best we can hope for is to help open people’s eyes and treat Fox as what it is … entertainment. When people begin to realize that Fox is owned by the GOP and that they share the GOP tradition of lying, cheating, and stealing, then perhaps they will go down in flames, as they should.

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  1. At the end of the day the voters will generally disbelieve anything the opposing politicians say so they’re much more likely to believe their own. It’s possible too that there are less cynics on the Republican side than vote Democrat but if there’s a politician who genuinely believes half the stories put out to discredit the opposition then he/she is far to gullible to be in the job. People could say of Trump. “I know he’s lying, his mouth is moving”, but some politicians obviously have a gift for it and can get even the most ridiculous conspiracy theory believed. It’s a shame that there isn’t a penalty for barefaced lies unless your own voters catch you in one and kick you out.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • With the possible exception of those such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert and their ilk, I think the politicos know fact from fantasy, but … when it is in their interest to perpetuate a lie, then they will do so. Unfortunately, about half the people in this country are either too busy or too ignorant to be bothered with chasing down facts, checking other news sites, asking questions, but instead they lap up all the lies, then promote them as truth. And, I’ve come to believe that there are those in this country who are bored, who are tired of staid old politicians, and they crave some excitement, some controversy, and where better to find it than Fox ‘News’, the mouthpiece for the former guy. Yes, it’s a shame there is no penalty, no accountability … sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, good reprint of the Krugman piece. There is an arrogance in the manner which some of the so-called news folks insult their audience. In essence, the message is you are gullible enough to believe anything we tell you. The only other explanation is the speaker does not have time to do the homework needed to get it right, or perhaps there is a little of both explanations going on. This story is too good not to pass along regardless of its veracity. This would be in line with the former president’s modus operandi where facts are unneeded. Fox has long been spin doctors of news, but now their opinion hosts and like minded guests are full bore parrots of disinformation. They have earned to right that anything they say should be considered dubious. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are exactly right, my friend! And it’s almost as if the likes of Carlson are on a mission to find out just how ignorant their viewers are, how much b.s. they will believe. I’m sure there are some cases where the perpetrator of lies simply doesn’t do his homework and believes he/she speaks the truth, but I really think that in most cases they are playing to the masses, to the ignorance of the masses. Earlier today I read that Carlson told his viewers if they saw a child out with a mask on, they should call the police, then call children’s services, for it was a criminal act on the part of the parents. WTF??? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, I wrote on Scottie’s post , I believe, that what Carlson said is malfeasance. Someone is going to get hurt, and it could be the one he revs up or the one who is accosted by the revved up Carlson fan. It is not unlike the former president having responsibility for inciting an insurrection. Seven people are dead and over 400 people are charged with crimes, all because these folks believed a highly untruthful person whose ego cannot take losing. Taking Trump or Carlson at their word is a fool’s errand. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re so right … eventually, someone will be physically hurt, but meanwhile, a nation is being psychologically poisoned. Those who are, for whatever reason, not looking any further than Fox for their news are deluded by the outright lies and conspiracy theories. I often think that the right to freedom of speech needs some qualifications added … not necessarily for the average John Doe, but for those in both government and the media … they should be held accountable for speaking the truth, else label their speech as ‘for entertainment value only’.

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