We recall the big fraud that Duke Lacrosse turned out to be. More and more we see stories where narrative seems to be the most important feature of the piece. Bret Stephens has a meditation on more recent stories, and Tom Maguire has lots more on the UVa story. For our part, we note the weirdness of it all — the narrative has taken on a strange religious quality that demands fealty. But it also seems very brittle. What the heck is going on?
Archive for the 'fabrications' Category
Wretchard et al, with some minor edits:
No one knows if the administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of all time: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the administration has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, it will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it. Sneak it in the back door and declare victory. Nothing warms the cockles of his heart more than “it is so ordered”. But that has been the pattern for the administration. It claimed al-Qaeda decimated, maintained the attack on the Benghazi consulate was caused by a video, swore that the mandates were not taxes, that you could keep your doctor or health plan; it celebrated the fresh wind of an Arab spring that blew through Libya, Egypt and Syria. It claimed the doorman Putin has been put in his place. Which of these is true? But there are many who still believe. Unfortunately they may be surprised one day when all the dreams of grand bargains, resets, pivots, springs and a World Without Nuclear Weapons don’t actually come true. The disappointment may be a bitter one.
That’s a nice country you’ve got there; be a pity if anything happened to it. Also, Roger Kimball is upset for some reason.
If you like your Goober, you can keep your Goober. (It will be interesting to see if MIT cans him.) The greatest threat is climate change. The Supreme Leader understands the concerns of Iranians. Some allies get this; other countries get this. Wretchard asked “how can you break down the borders of your own country and expect it to end well?” Answer: you don’t. What part of fundamentally transforming an adequately performing society don’t you understand?
Without a doubt the weirdest thing about this parallel universe is that these guys and their fellow travelers are completely convinced of their own superiority, even though they are wrong on most issues and have no problem lying boldly to advance their reactionary agenda.
Do bothersome facts matter anymore? Not really. This is an age when Americans were assured that the Affordable Care Act lowered our premiums. It…allowed us to keep our doctors and health plans, and lowered the deficit. Those fantasies were both demonstrably untrue and did not matter, given the supposedly noble aims of health care reform. The Islamic State is at times dubbed jayvee, a manageable problem, and a dangerous enemy — or anything the administration wishes it to be, depending on the political climate of any given week.
Some days Americans are told there is no reason to restrict connecting flights from Ebola-ravaged countries. Then, suddenly, entry from those countries is curtailed to five designated U.S. airports. Quarantines are both necessary and not so critical, as the administration weighs public concern versus politically correct worries over isolating a Third World African country. Ebola is so hard to catch that there is no reason to worry about causal exposures to those without clear symptoms. But then why do health authorities still try to hunt down anyone who had even a brief encounter with supposedly asymptomatic carriers?
The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi were caused by a video that sparked a riot, and then apparently not. Various narratives about corruption and incompetence at the VA, IRS, NSA, GSA and Secret Service are raised and then dropped. The larger truth is that these scandals must be quarantined from infecting the president’s progressive agenda…The Tawana Brawley case, the Duke men’s lacrosse team accusations, and the O. J. Simpson verdict were constructed fantasies. No one cared much about the inconvenient facts or the lies that destroyed people’s lives — given that myths were deemed useful facts for achieving larger racial justice.
It no longer really matters much what the grand jury will find in the Michael Brown fatal-shooting case. Whether he had just robbed a store, was high on drugs, was walking down the middle of the road and prompted a violent confrontation with a police officer, or whether the officer was the aggressor in the confrontation, these have become mere competing narratives. The facts pale in comparison with the higher truth that Brown was black and unarmed, while Officer Darren Wilson white and armed. The latter scenario is all that matters.
Language is useful for inventing new realities. “Illegal alien” is a time-tested noun denoting foreign citizens who crossed a national border contrary to law. “Undocumented immigrant” is now used to diminish the bothersome fact that millions have broken and continue to break the law. To play down the dangers of radical Islam, an entire array of circumlocutions — “workplace violence” (in the case of the Fort Hood shooting) “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters” — were the euphemisms evoked by members of the Obama administration to construct an alternate reality in which radical jihadists are no more dangerous than disgruntled office workers or gale-force winds.
Many of the current campus poster icons are abject myths. Che Guevara, for all his hipster appearance, was no revolutionary hero, but a murderer who enjoyed personally executing his political opponents. Communist leader Angela Davis was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the totalitarian Soviet Union.
We keep wondering how much energy it takes to live in this fantasy world where made-up things are real enough as long as they are politically useful. Can it be that these people believe the things they say at the moment they say them, or they just don’t care?
Bonus fun: let’s ban argon! What a world, what a government…
CNN in 1997:
In a sweltering, crowded hospital south of Baghdad, dozens of children line the beds, their stick-like limbs reflecting a severe lack of food. A mother’s wail pierces the room: One of her children has already died and two others are suffering from malnutrition and diarrhea. Such conditions are prevalent throughout the Arab nation, where aid agencies have issued numerous reports documenting the deteriorating health of Iraqi children since the United Nations imposed sanctions seven years ago. One in four Iraqi children are malnourished, according to UNICEF. Many of those who survive will suffer permanent brain damage or stunted growth.
CNN’s chief news executive in 2003:
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. For example, in the mid-1990′s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk…A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for “crimes,” one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family’s home. I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me.
Bonus fun: North Korea too. Sense a pattern???
As you may know, you get back from Mr. Mxyztplk’s planet by saying your name backwards. Backwards indeed. It’s Opposite Day every day now. And we do indeed live in Bizarro World. All of which brings us to this Jonah Goldberg piece. Very puzzling how someone can go through life this way.
A congressman at a debate in front of a live audience said this: “It is easy to sit in the rarified environs of academia in the ivory towers of a college campus with no accountablity and no consequence, when you throw stones at those of us who are working every day to make a difference.” Huh? What kind of language is that? Connecting with average voters? Sounds like an ex-congressman to us, especially when combined with terrible constituent service.
Prior to the florid and endless untruths of the last five years, no lies have a more distinguished bi-partisan history than those about immigration. 32 years ago Simpson-Mazzoli was “tough.” And in 2006 so was Bush, followed up the next year by an immigration bill that had no enforcement mechanism whatsoever. After so much lying from both sides of the aisle on this issue and others in recent times, it appears that voters decided that Cantor picked a bad year to continue the tradition.
JPod has a very insightful piece about the pop culture fairy tale the country has lived through in recent years. It’s an amazing thing to contemplate the power of a story to shape facts — again and again — into something they are not. So now we have the Bergdahl story, the true narrative of which is obvious, and impossible to fit into the never-ending fairy tale plotline the media prefer. In such a situation, it is illuminating to see who are the people still trying to do so. Of course we have the NYT editorial board, suggesting that shady “operatives” are coercing soldiers to make up bad things to say about the fellow. The NYT also made other assertions that even CNN (or at least Jake Tapper) will have nothing to do with. And the WaPo, or at least certain reporters and editors, continue to pretend all is well in fairyland: “With Bergdahl handover, proof that successful deals can be made with Taliban.” Good luck with that! And the LAT continues bravely to spin. The next couple of years are going to be interesting for the media spin machine, since there are going to be plenty of situations that, try as they might, they just can’t put a happy face on.
So it turns out that the guy was apparently a deserter in addition to being a weirdo. And quite a few soldiers were killed trying to find him. But the video blamer says he was a swell guy. So What? And the five really bad guys he was traded for got a hero’s welcome. So What? Roger Simon (and his commenters) have laundry lists of very bad things being done to the country, the answer to which have been to date: So What? Thus far no straw has been too heavy to break this crew, which gives aid and comfort to the bad actors everywhere, and ensuring, if this continues to go on, that the last straw will weigh very heavily on us all.
What would it take to get you to — pro-actively, gratuitously and completely unnecessarily — lie to the parents of a dead soldier killed in the line of duty? Steyn meditates.
A senior government official:
Right now there is not a negotiation; there is a confrontation. I’m sad to report I’ve never seen such a complete, miserable, unaccountable, disgraceful walk away from a set of promises and understandings than what has taken place. I’ve had six conversations with Lavrov in the last weeks. The last one was Kafka-esque, it was other planet, it was just bizarre. Nobody is better at telling you that red is blue and black is white…That’s what we are dealing with.
If you like your promises and understandings, you can keep your promises and understandings. Period. Who could have guessed that government officials just make stuff up?
The NYT actually ran this on 3/25:
I believed this legislation, signed four years ago this month, would free people to pursue their dreams, start new companies and not worry about the health insurance penalty. What I didn’t count on was that it would make things harder for me and my wife.
First, we were notified that we would be kicked out of our existing $263-a-month Anthem Blue Cross plan because it didn’t meet the minimum standards of the new law. No problem, I thought. The plans in the new Covered California exchange would most likely be better and cheaper.
But we were shocked at what we confronted. The least expensive premium for a couple like us in our 40s would be about $620 a month. And because our household adjusted gross income is likely to be over the $62,040 cutoff this year, it’s doubtful we’ll end up with a subsidy to help offset that price increase…
I have mild asthma. Normally it’s not a problem, but when I get a chest cold, it becomes severe. One recent day I found that I couldn’t breathe. My inhalers were all expired. I’d held off refilling them since my insurance would reduce the costs of the $58.99 inhalers only by a little more than $9. I knew from past experience that I probably needed a prescription for antibiotics, so I tried frantically to find a medical facility that would take our new Covered California Anthem Blue Cross bronze plan. When I did, they said it would be three weeks before I could see a doctor…
(Nelson developed a skin infection. I got an appointment at the vet’s the next day. They prescribed an antibiotic…The medication caused diarrhea so I called his internist at his vet hospital, PetCare, and she prescribed a probiotic. Nelson’s $40.42-a-month pet insurance…paid almost all of these costs…I was envious. My 11-year-old brown Labrador was getting the kind of treatment that I could only dream of. I wanted to go to PetCare. I wanted pet insurance.)…
It’s still hard to understand what coverage we have. It’s like trying to read tea leaves. Benefits descriptions can be contradictory and run nearly 200 pages long. One summary attached to my online account seems to say that if I go to the emergency room, I could potentially owe thousands of dollars. Another document suggests that I’m responsible for only $300. I’ve had two representatives give me two different explanations…the new plan has more coverage, including pediatric vision. But we don’t have children…
if you see a doctor outside your network, look out. We found this out the hard way. My wife and I both had to see a doctor in January. Our old policy and our new Covered California policy were both with Anthem Blue Cross, so a representative there told us to use our old ID cards for our visits since our new cards hadn’t arrived yet. We were covered, he assured us. At the medical center, we gave our ID cards to the receptionist, who accepted them as valid, and went in to see our regular doctors. But later we found out that they were not in our new network’s plan. The out-of-pocket cost for my simple 30-minute office visit: $303. My wife’s annual exam and a couple of minor procedures: $918.
We’re still waiting for quality health care that we can actually use, afford and understand
What a complainer this former WaPo reporter is! Doesn’t he know that if he liked his doctor, he could keep his doctor? Doesn’t he know that if he liked his plan he could keep his plan? Period! (It’s rather amazing to see a guy like this sound just like Ann Coulter.)
Some D: “a woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man does.” Some R: “It’s not government, though, that creates jobs. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators are the engine of job creation.” Blah, blah blah. Question: why not just go after the lie, with the obvious point that any businessman with a million dollar payroll would fire all the guys and hire all the girls if he could pocket another $230,000 by doing so? Answer: it’s called the stupid party for a reason. Final point, a little harmony: nice to hear on KPFK today that Ralph Nader is also fed up with all the lying.
Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)
Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…
It is almost impossible to overstate the foolishness of US foreign policy these days. Wretchard gives it the old college try, but he can’t overstate it either. How can an entire establishment be so clueless as to squander most of what was so hard won from the 1940′s onward? No wonder Moshe Ya’alon is so vocal and direct in his criticisms. This didn’t begin well, and the only question is how badly it’s going to end.
AA587, TWA800, ValuJet 592, Alaska 261, Swissair 111, Egyptair 990, that Air France flight from a couple of years ago: the list is so short that we know the flight numbers of many incidents. And a forgotten incident from nine years ago, when an Egyptian was arrested in Memphis with a uniform and a DVD telling airline pilots how they should act in public.
Fatal air incidents have become so rare in recent years due to technological improvements that suspicions are warranted when aircraft just disappear. We’d be very surprised if the B777-200 in the Malaysia case turns out to be anything other than foul play.