American Elephants

Lies, Deceit, Fraud, Falsehood and Misrepresentation. by The Elephant's Child

hoax n. An act intended to deceive or trick, either as a practical joke or as a serious fraud.

Last Monday, the wire services, cable news stations and Web sites reported that the U.S. Chamber fo Commerce had recanted its opposition to climate-change legislation.  Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

It was a hoax.  Incredibly (well maybe not so incredibly), the hoax was perpetrated by an activist group in a room at the National Press Club in Washington in front of reporters who’ve risen to the top of their industry.  The hoaxers had created a fake web site and faked a Chamber press release.

The made-up press conference ran about 20 minutes until someone from the real Chamber of Commerce showed up yelling. “This is a fraud!”  Too late.  Credulous TV and wire reporters had sent the Chamber’s climate flip-flop into an already confused world.

With fakery everywhere—some of it amusing, some of it not funny—people’s ability to know where things fall on the spectrum between fact and falsity becomes so compromised that they retreat into a shell of cynicism about everything.  And there is a lot to process; 9/11 deniers, Iranian Holocaust deniers, Obama birthers.  Lily Tomlin provided the epigraph for our age: “I try to be cynical, but it’s hard to keep up.” (…)

One can argue that all this reality bending remains harmless.  Much of it’s just entertainment and the rest is reversible.  People adjust.  Living deep inside this new electronic forest, the human animal has learned to adapt.  But the one presumably important area of life that seems to be having a hard time adapting to the reality of pandemic doubt is politics.

American politics long ago came up with its own word for shaping reality—spin.  Being professionals, the politicians got away with a lot of it.

Now with more people decked out in protective coats of cynicism, it’s gotten harder for the pols to sell their grand schemes.  Ask President Obama.

The whole article is available here. The credulity and willingness of the press to believe anything that fits with their political leanings is distressing.  But when you are told a lie by an authority and believe it and act on it, the ripples of that lie go on and on, damaging everything they touch.

This president has no compunctions about “the facts” he uses to try to sell his health reform plan, including the fact that there is, as yet, no health reform plan. There is a Senate Finance Committee bill (the Baucus Bill) which is not yet put into legal language, so it doesn’t really exist and the committee members who voted it out were voting for a bunch of concepts, not prospective laws.  There’s the old dead House bill, and a new one that is being written in back rooms with closed doors, and much of it passes far beyond “hoax” to outright fraud.

Much of our economy is being rearranged (and bankrupted) to “save the world” from a global warming that simply is a normal function of a climate that is always warming and cooling; and from CO2 that is not a pollutant, not a cause of global warming, and only a trace gas in the atmosphere.

Far from everyone having to worry about their “carbon footprint”, most of the CO2 in the atmosphere rises from the oceans in a long cycle of hundreds of years.  CO2 is necessary to life itself, for it is a natural fertilizer—it makes plants grow.  No CO2, no life.  That simple.  We do not have enough of it, for we are still recovering from the last ice age.  The times in the past when we had far more CO2 in the atmosphere were far more beneficial to all life on earth.

You may call it spin, but it really qualifies as serious fraud.

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