Liar Liar Pants on Fire!


by Roxanne Tellier

When we’re kids, we’re terrible at telling lies. You can spot a kid that’s telling a tall tale a mile away, because they’re just not great at deceiving others.

Deception and lying are all part of a cognitive understanding called a Theory of Mind. That’s the realization that we all have our own knowledge, beliefs and opinions … that development informs us that we all have different minds.

Over time, we learn to tell ‘social’ lies, the fibs that get us through our days. “How are you today?” the cashier asks us, and we cheerily inform her that we’re just fine, despite the screaming headache we’re trying to ignore. Or someone asks if they look good in their new coat, and we tell them they look amazing.

pinochioSalespeople lie a dozen times a day, or if not lie, at least they’ll minimize the defects of an item, and maximize it’s benefits. We lie on our resumes, and on our dating profiles .. at least a titch … and we lie when we want to look smarter or more informed than we really are.

Peer pressure and our need to fit the perceptions and expectations of others drives a lot of the lying. We want to look good to others, and to do so, we often have to ‘enhance’ our reality.

We lie to avoid the consequences of mistakes, we lie to buy time, we lie to spare other people’s feelings. We may be lying for all the right reasons, but we’re still lying.

All of that lying comes at a cost. What we really crave is honesty, or at least the belief that someone is being honest; complete honesty is the access to ultimate power. When we feel that a person is telling us the truth, we hand over our power to their keeping. We believe that they have our best interests at heart, and, in effect, must be better people than we assume ourselves to be.

But trust is a fragile thing. And even if the person who broke that trust tells us with sweet words and warm embraces that our trust was broken for a very good reason … once we no longer trust, we can no longer cling to a faith in the person that has broken the code of truth.

And when you pile lie upon lie upon lie … the very foundations of a relationship proves to be built upon quicksand. Not a great thing if it’s in a romance, but if that relationship is between a nation, and it’s leader, there’s an enormous price to pay, and it’s a dangerous place for a nation – or a planet. Especially a planet where Pinocchio demands absolute fealty, constant attention, and has the codes to a nuclear football.

“On January 20, Trump’s truthful hyperboles will no longer be relegated to the world of deal making or campaigning. Donald Trump will become the chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, the man charged with representing that nation globally—and, most importantly, telling the story of America back to Americans. He has the megaphone of the White House press office, his popular Twitter account and a loyal new right-wing media army that will not just parrot his version of the truth but actively argue against attempts to knock it down with verifiable facts. Unless Trump dramatically transforms himself, Americans are going to start living in a new reality, one in which their leader is a manifestly unreliable source.” Politico, January 1, 2017.

There’s a crushing irony in Trump, who promised to be the ‘law and order’ president, who has racked up a blinding total of over 6000 lies since taking office, telling Americans and the world that he believes the words of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who denies having been involved in the murder of U.S.-based, Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

don't lie to meBelieves MbS, may I add, over the findings of his own CIA, the actual tape of the screams of the man being murdered, and the fact based reality that nothing happens in the Kingdom of the Saud’s without the leader having full knowledge of all actions taken in his kingdom, and in his name.

I’m sure it’s not only those of us who are parents or grandparents that smelled the aroma of defensive lies well before they were fully baked in Trump’s oven of hypocrisy. He did, after all, begin cooking them up even before the Saudi’s had had a chance to properly season those lies with the blood of their tortured and murdered victim.

Kids lie because they have no power. They lie to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions. But leaders have ALL of the power; if what they are doing or proposing is in the best interest of those they lead, there’s no need to hide their words or deeds. Trump’s deep dish lying is only necessary when there’s double dealing, corruption, and personal greed afoot.

But then again, Trump has a lot of practice in both the telling of, and the swallowing of, lies. He’s essentially based his entire presidency and legacy on a roiling sea of tall tales, myths, innuendo, misrepresentations, denigrations of truths, and lie after lie after lie. And his claims are usually at the expense of those whose sole mission in life is to present truths – be it the CIA, the FBI, or the free press.

He’s denied that Russia had any interest in putting him into office, even as witnesses, texts, and chains of emails come to light proving his collusion. No matter what proof is laid on the table, Trump, that sly dog, manages to twist and turn the truth, until his base can be convinced that there’s no smoking gun of evidence, just a ‘light’ claim of wrong doing that he denied at the time, but that if you look at it from his point of view, was never wrong doing, and even if it was, it wasn’t a crime and certainly not illegal .. and hey presto! There’s your new normal … a candy coated lie that everyone wants under the tree at Christmas.

The Teflon coating of Trump’s America is nothing but a veneer of protective lies. Just ask special counsel Mueller, who’s spent the better part of a year and a half exposing the lies of 45’s cronies, lies that come to them as easily as breathing. Or ask those he’s caught in those lies, those that once swore utter loyalty to the Father of Lies, in exchange for a sniff of power … Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn, to name but a few.

Whether it was lying about the paying off of sex scandals, the fiddling of campaign finances, or Russia’s involvement and meddling into the 2016 election, and whether it was for power, loyalty, or reasons we may never understand, Trump’s ex besties will be paying a steep price for lying to federal authorities.

Yes .. I’m aware that all presidents lie. The difference here, though, is the frequency, and the intent .. Nixon, Reagan, Clinton... no question that they were caught lying, in attempts to protect their reputations.

But Trump seems to lie because he just can’t help himself. There’s no matter so small that he can’t find a lie inside it; during the campaign, PolitiFact found that he lied 70 percent of the time. It’s knee-jerk, it’s just what he does … George Washington could not tell a lie, Trump cannot tell a truth.

(anecdotally, Trump once told his butler, Anthony Senecal, that the tiles in a nursery at MarALago‘s West Palm Beach club had been made by Walt Disney himself. Knowing that was false, Senecal protested. Trump’s response was: “Who cares?”)

He is the Boy that Cried Wolf. Many of us can no longer believe anything he says, ever.

Even the most brilliant human brain can only cope with so much misinformation. For the majority of us, we’re easily overwhelmed with a flood of false statements. Our coping mechanism soon becomes overburdened, and ultimately, we begin to absorb the disinformation as a new reality, no matter how implausible those statements may be.

yes masterAnd Trump is also the master of another form of lying, so insidious that most people don’t even see it coming …he practices ‘illusory truth,‘ … the sheer repetition of the same lie until it begins to register as truth in our minds, and even causes the actual reality and truth to be erased from our memories.

Keep repeating a lie and it begins to seep into our minds as truth. Say it enough, and we’ll no longer be able to recognize truth at all.

Worse still, our efforts to refute those lies only serves to solidify the lies as truths. The brain can’t parse out a phrase like, “it’s not true that all migrants are gangsters.” Instead, it filters out the first part, and seizes upon the second as what is important. Refutations and retractions will do nothing to change judgments and decisions we make based upon false information.

I wish that I could tell you that there is an easy way to change the minds of those who have absorbed this administration’s lies and misinformation and made those deceptions into core beliefs. But I cannot. In point of fact, the processing of all of this false information has physically altered the minds of the ‘true believers’ as surely as those of religious cultists. They literally cannot hear any information that does not correlate to what they have accepted as truth.

The base of Trump’s followers will not willingly drop their acquired values; they are far more likely to double down on their emotional connection to the lies than to hear statements that belie what they have come to consider gospel. Trump’s base will have to be ‘deprogrammed’ by someone able to reshape their minds. We can only hope that whomever comes along to do so, has honorable intentions, and the good of their country top of mind.

 

Addendum:  When I first started writing this column, I came from a very different perspective. By the time I was winding up the piece, I was shaken to my core.

“Lying” sounds like something we have to teach kids not to do; kid stuff, not all that important, a mere peccadillo, as they used to say.  But it’s so much more than that. When the people we are meant to trust … our elected leaders, civic leaders, religious leaders … lie to us to further their own agendas, their words can warp the teachings and beliefs of a lifetime. And that is some scary stuff. Manchurian Candidate stuff.

If you have an interest in the science of lies, please read this article – especially the second half – and be prepared to look at America with an entirely different and more educated eye by the end of the read.

The distressing reality is that our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is—especially in the political arena, and especially when that sense of truth is twisted by a figure in power. As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible. It’s little wonder that authoritarian regimes with sophisticated propaganda operations can warp the worldviews of entire populations. “You are annihilated, exhausted, you can’t control yourself or remember what you said two minutes before. You feel that all is lost,” as one man who had been subject to Mao Zedong’s “reeducation” campaign in China put it to the psychiatrist Robert Lifton. “You accept anything he says.””

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/donald-trump-lies-liar-effect-brain-214658

America – Coming Apart At The Dreams


There are only two things that kept me from spontaneously combusting this week.

This ….

and this …

and for bonus points .. this…

shredding constitution

I was in a white hot rage for most of the week otherwise. Watching democracy die in real time is exhausting. Understanding the implications of just what America is losing is heart wrenching.

This is, after all, what many consider a doomsday scenario, one in which an intrinsically flawed president controls all three branches of government and has declared war on American institutions. With the nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, every branch of government – meant to protect ALL citizens – now soaks in a stew of fragile, toxic, angry, white, masculinity.

I’m KavaNauseous.

kavanaugh twilight zoneThere was never any reason to force a flawed candidate down the throat of America; there were dozens of other candidates without multiple allegations of sexual assault against them, just as worthy, perhaps even more worthy. I’m gonna bet that it’s likely none of the other guys had a former female law clerk available, ready to flash white power signs at the camera during his confirmation hearings. And I’m pretty sure that any of those other choices would have still secured the long term goal of tipping the Court to the right.

Kavanaugh was also concurrently facing multiple ethics complaints about his time on the Court of Appeals.  A Supreme Court nominee has never before been poised to join the court while a fellow judge recommends that there be a review of a series of misconduct claims against that nominee. With his elevation, those complaints cease to exist.

But the obvious calculation on the GOP’s part, that this candidate holds some very interesting opinions on just how far above the law lies the office and power of the presidency, was escalated once the fight got into the sexual realm.

And it was then that the depth of male anger, resentment and entitlement leapt to the fore. Although the Republican senators made a stab at showing some sort of sensitivity, as in hiring a seasoned, female sex-crimes prosecutor, their true feelings were evident when they repeatedly referred to the prosecutor as an ‘assistant,’ and took over the questioning when it was time to protect their boy, Kav.

borowitz-kavanaugh-screamingFor most sane people, Kavanaugh shot himself in the foot when he came out swinging, getting that toxic entitlement all over the front rows of the viewers. Spewing conspiracy theories, breaking into tears for little reason, and aggressively belittling the Democratic senators attempting to question him, he came off as nothing more than an aging high school bully who still likes to swing by the old school to ensure his legend as a ‘hard man’ maintains.

I’m pretty sure that most women who’ve dealt, even peripherally, with a man this angry, feared for what would happen to his wife and daughters when the day was over and they were in the shelter of his home.

And the subsequent oped that Kavanaugh placed in the Wall Street Journal continued to foster a tone that echoed exactly how abusive partners talk to their spouse, after an episode blows over.

But whatever anyone might deduce from his words and tone were totally immaterial; the fix had been in from the get go. In the post filibuster era, all the GOP needed was a vote of 51, and they knew they had that handily, even if they had to bring in Vice President Lapdog.

When Senators Flake and Coons demanded an FBI investigation, some of us actually had a momentary hope that there might be some justice involved in the rush to elevate the justice, but within hours, our hopes were dashed again.

The FBI were essentially ‘hired’ by the White House, and Trump made the rules for how they’d investigate. The entire report was a sham, from start to finish, and served only to give the few senators looking to cover their ass, a flimsy excuse to give to their female constituents.

The sort of secrecy around even the tiny bit of ‘investigating’ that got done when they talked to “nine people – no walk ins,” and not at all to the two main characters, became even more farcical when the results were treated like a Shroud of Turin, too fragile to be accessible to more than a few people at a time.

The report was a cover-up, a charade meant only as a fig leaf to cover the tumescence of the senators about to give one to the women of America.

Now – we do know that every honourable group in America, and even some not so honourable groups – were opposed to Kavanaugh. Even the ABA (American Bar Association) asked the committee to hold off on the confirmation while they re-evaluated Kavanaugh’s standing, based on his temperament. Gonna hazard a guess that his rating, already having been dropped from ‘very qualified’ to ‘qualified’ was about to drop to ‘unqualified.’

In fact, the only group NOT opposing him, on moral and ethical grounds .. were Evangelical Christians. What a pretty sight to see .. that the group considering itself America’s high ground for morality … displays no tinge of morals whatsoever.

It’s a display…a veritable parade … of the power of white supremacy and male entitlement.

And the Republicans just cannot understand why women and minorities aren’t standing up and cheering the decision.

Well, history will have it’s say – Kavanaugh, I firmly believe, will be outed in all of his reprehensible glory, and this episode, regardless of any thing good he might have done in the future, will colour his legacy with a crimson stain of perjury and rageaholicism.

The confirmation also taints the Supreme Court itself. Every decision made while he sits on the court will be treated with disdain and contempt, with his input rightly treated as the squealing of the suck up to the president/Republican party.

This appointment undermines the integrity of the Supreme Court, whose main job is to provide bipartisan checks and balances. All pretense of that is gone with this new court – five right-leaning judges and four liberals. It’s value is now eroded and this obvious partisan lean challenges the courts ability to uphold the constitutional rights of ALL American people. The SCOTUS branch of justice has been trimmed back hard.

” McConnell and our dysfunctional and disrespected Congress have now ensured an increasingly dysfunctional and disrespected judiciary, and the constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government is in peril.”
(Christopher R. Browning.. The Suffocation of Democracy)

fbi complicitBut I also hold the FBI as complicit in it’s own slow walk to becoming ineffectual, and ultimately, too worthless to continue being supported. And it’s a mark of how far we’ve come in normalizing this abnormal administration, that there was no chance that the FBI would overrule the president, and conduct a proper investigation.

The sad truth is that America is in the middle of a legitimacy crisis. Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court was recommended by a president that actually lost the popular vote, and investigated by a Bureau that is rapidly losing the faith of the people. A third of the country – what remains of his base – is being whipped into a frenzy at his Nuremberg-style rallies, with politics now such a delicate area of conversation that families are being ripped asunder by partisanship. People are buying t-shirts that say they’d rather be Russian than vote for a Democrat. The country is ripe for another civil war.

jonestown massacreAll because of one man, who thrives on chaos, and on pitting us against each other. He is the antithesis of a good leader – he is the Jim Jones turning America into Jonestown.

His minions cheer on his cruelty, unaware that they could well be his next victim .. he’s capricious like that. Citizens are chasing politicians out of restaurants and going after them in elevators. A miasma of violence percolates through the land; we’re one upping each other in our passion, and that can only lead to more violence.

These upcoming midterm elections are being called the most important elections in modern history. Much depends on getting out the vote, and Mitch McConnell is pretty sure that the Supreme Court win will energize the Republican base to come out in droves. Democrats are hoping for a Blue Wave, but if there is one thing certain, it’s that after the debacle of 2016, no election can ever be considered in the bag.

trump useful idiotWhat we do know, however, is that the outcome of the midterms is critical to the future of the United States. A Democratic win would ensure a small return to democracy and an opposition with some teeth. A Republican win, on the other hand, would allow Trump and his very worst flights of fancy to finish the job he’s begun … of tearing America into tiny shreds before handing it over to his Russian handlers.

I’ll bet Putin never expected he’d get such a rate of return on his investment into the useful idiot.

 

American Monkey Court as Must See TV?


Who knew a Judiciary Committee could become Must See TV?

Is there any way the House Judiciary Committee attempting to publicly lynch FBI director Peter Strzok can take their act on the road? It’s not every day the world gets to see a complete institutional meltdown in Washington, DC.  goodlatte judiciary

The Committee were weighing in on Strzok, who was part of both the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the possibility of Russian interference in the Trump presidential campaign in 2016. Like any sane person, Strzok believed that Americans would see through Trump’s obvious flaws, and vote for Clinton.

Unlike anyone thinking straight, he shared some of his thoughts about both matters with his mistress, by texting them to her on his work phone. And there’s the rub.

While his sentiments were echoed by a goodly portion of the Republican party themselves during the campaign, (“Trump is a f**king idiot. What the hell happened to our country?”) the party line since Trump’s ascension to the throne has always been that these personal, and basically pillow talk texts between Strzok and his lover, were proof of a deep conspiracy within the FBI to stop Donald Trump from being elected president.

Apparently the need to keep this conspiracy a secret was so dire that the FBI then let Trump get elected to the presidency. Now THAT is sneaky!

Chair of the committee Bob Goodlatte and Jerrold Nadler battled it out over what questions could be answered. The bellowings of  ‘point of order!” “your point of order not taken, sir!”  bounced from side to side like the bouncing ball that once led moviegoers into a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and just when you thought they would come to blows, someone brought up how Steve Bannon had stonewalled the committee on Russian interference, and maybe he should be brought back and made to tell the truth. A very long and boring vote then took place, that lead us nicely into Rep Louis Gohmert leading a pearl-clutching chorus of ‘have you no SHAME, sir!” over Strzok’s pornographic texts to his mistress,  while Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman yelled at Gohmert, “You need your medication,” and then back into Trey Gowdy’s only apparent point – that Strzok had gone straight from disliking Trump to wanting him impeached before he’d actually gotten the presidential gig.

Strozk is an american heroStrzok acquitted himself extremely well, and was able to shoot a few truth grenades into the obviously partisan Monkey Court. “The proposition that [bias] is going on and that might occur anywhere in the FBI deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.”

As late night comedian Stephen Colbert put it, “it was like ‘A Few Good Men,’ but with even fewer good men.”

Not THAT is Must See TV.

Meanwhile, at the NATO Summit in Brussels, Trump lay on the floor and tantrumed.  One pundit remarked that it was, “the usual Trump; a stream of incoherent sentences. The allies looked the other way as when the old uncle gets nuts.”

And then, as usual, he held a press conference where he declared that the problem he had created had just been solved … by him.

trump emperor no clothes russian secretsIt was a moment when the world watched the Emperor parade before the planet without a stitch of clothing.

During Trump’s official visit to England, an inflammatory radio interview he had given kicking sand in Theresa May’s face before driving a knife into her back was released as he and his entourage were dining in state, at her estate.

As The Guardian reported, ” Donald Trump hailed Boris Johnson as a future prime minister, accused the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, of doing “a bad job” on terrorism and said there had been too much immigration in Europe in an incendiary interview that raised questions about the decision to invite him to Britain.

A day before the US president was due to have bilateral talks with Theresa May, Trump used an interview with the Rupert Murdoch owned Sun, to endorse her principal Tory rival just days after he resigned from the cdabinet in protest at her Brexit policy.

Trump described Johnson as “a very talented guy” for whom he had “a lot of respect”. He claimed he was not trying to pit Johnson against his host, but added: “I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”

Awkward!

Predictably, once he had to defend his trash talk in May’s face, he backtracked on every word, calling it ‘fake news.’  Pity the whole thing is audio taped, and we can judge his words for ourselves.

While the baby Trump blimp sails over London’s streets, he and his entourage prepare to take the Trump Too Outrageous! Tour on to Scotland, before what is sure to be a sickeningly ingratiating secret meeting with Russia’s Putin.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t give away any of the ‘good’ American states, as he puppy dog wriggles in the joy of grovelling at his Master’s feet.