Bob Dylan once wrote a song entitled “Idiot Wind,” which copyright restrictions and international conventions prohibit me from reproducing here in most any form. But that’s the theme song for the last few days. Sometimes, there is such a mountain of partisan blather and endless analysis and deconstruction of polls by an army of self-anointed analysts who have clearly never so much as attempted to spell “statistics,” can barely pr0nounce the word and most assuredly neither took an ‘Introduction to Statistics’ nor probably much in the way of mathematics, period … SOMETIMES there is such a mountain of blather that there is nothing to to add that could be heard above the yowl of the idiot wind. Case in point:
The twitter user @comfortablysmug is one of a handful of pseudonymous Manhattan professionals who keep their widely-followed Twitter voices separate from their careers. [...]
And in the chaos around Hurricane Sandy, he veered into new territory: Trying to trick his media followers, and their followers and readers in turn, with fake news. He reported, falsely, on a total blackout in Manhattan, on a flood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and other things that didn’t happen.
Two of his tweets garnered more than 500 retweets. One drew a rebuke from ConEd’s official Twitter account.
Twitter’s self-correction mechanism — rebukes and rebuttals from knowledgeable sources — shut down each rumor, but not until at least one, the flood claim, had bled widely into the television media. …
Well, disinformation is at least as old as that famous Talking Snake upon whose tale three world religions tread. But, really, disinformation is not new to us, either.
What IS new is the nature of the latest Talking Snake, one Mittens Romney and Paul Ryan, who dutifully repeats whatever talking points the campaign gives him, good soldier.
The traceries in the Right Wing Echo Machine were clear early in the Spring, as I’ve talked about elsewhere. But there is a grand irony there that we OUGHT to see.
It is clear that Karl Rove’s master plan, as agreed to by his owners, was to make the “October Surprise” about “Libya” and “Benghazi” to swiftboat President Obama’s greatest strength: killing Osama bin Laden, after more than a decade of fruitless and wrongheaded searching by Rove’s White House employer and his new, massive, “smaller government” apparatus, the Department of Homeland Security and the Unified Intelligence Spookocracy.
Again: old hat. After awhile, they play predictably, and this could have been predicted.
The coordinated blogs of the “Blog Against Some Guy” Memorial Day exercises, and the twin swarms that dominated and drove news over both conventions was going to be the method of application, and never had a more well-oiled machine been drawn forth in the service of intentional disinformation.
But they made, as is said in several famous jokes, one small mistake.
A twenty percent tax cut! Just think of it!
In order for them to present a unified push for their manufactured facts (because, as anyone with an IQ greater than a turnip knows, a more fact-challenged campaign has never slithered the face of American politics before) they needed Mitt Romney to be consistent. He had his positions and they would defend them with both of the tricks in their rhetorical bag: tu quoque and “I’m rubber, you’re glue.” *
[* from the childhood refrain, usually chanted semi-ritualistically: 'I'm rubber, you're glue; it bounces off me and sticks to you.']
But every time Mitt has flipped his position, the 101st Chairborne has been forced to reverse course and lie the opposite side of the case with all the passion and conviction that they were attacking said position earlier.
He said WHAT??!?
Thus, in utter confusion, the new “truths” appear in scattered pockets, uncoordinated and, without the cover fire of a thousand snarks, dispatched by fact-checkers and pundits and bloggers (oh, my!) — the difficulty in picking up a narrative thread is that this is not so much a seamless tapestry of prevarications, as we had grown used to, but more like the aftermath of an explosion at a yarn factory.
The irony is that those being most harmed by Mitt’s mendacity are not his detractors so much as his supporters. Suddenly flipping from “forward” to “reverse” and back again without ever coming to a clear stop rips up both automotive transmissions and political campaigns. Since he has no place to stand, they are left running from one set of newly dug fortifications to frantically dig an OPPOSING set of fortifications. At this point, half are advancing while half are retreating, while the candidate himself seemingly does both at the same time. They don’t seem to know where to go because the candidate doesn’t know where he’s going, and there is a sort of continual chaos, a white noise of jactitation trailing behind his coughing jalopy.
Considering that there is exactly one week left until the formal election and counting, they would have needed at least a couple of weeks to hammer at the Libya canard and sink the swiftboat, but this may well be the first time in memory that a disinformation campaign has created such confusion as to have inadvertently created its own disinformation trap. The perfect flipping of positions has created the rhetorical equivalent of a damping (NOT ‘dampening’ — there is no such) field.
2nd Order Damping Ratios (No, this is NOT a poll)
So, when we see a rhetorical arsonist creating a sadistic (or sociopathic) disinformation campaign on Twitter, whether it is actually a Romney operative, a Romney supporter or someone who doesn’t actually give a damn, but likes to see people chase red herrings, it is instructive that the Romney campaign is AUTOMATICALLY assumed to be somehow involved.
It’s the Frank Rich line (from when he was still at the New York Times) that the Wizard can’t be the Wizard anymore once the curtain is drawn back.
With a week to go, we’re reminded that a significant chunk of one party’s philosophy is to jettison ‘facts’ for ‘conventient truthiness,’ while, as per usual, the other party manages to respect facts so much that no conclusions are ever drawn, nor are facts ever finally determined to be factual.
This too tends to cancel itself out, as current polling SEEMS to indicate. Considering that there are very few polls outside the margin of error, we can only absurdly try to make a superstorm political, as though Osama Bin Meteorology intentionally planned this, and how does this affect the Presidential Election?
Facts are, as J0hn Adams said, stubborn things.
The next week will tell. But the idiot wind will be gusting up to 120 miles per hour for the next seven daze [sic], at least.
[sic]: simper tyrannis.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.