Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What's in a Lie?

I, for one, was always a little (should I say, morbidly) curious exactly what lengths Stephen Harper would go in his blatant denial of inconvenient facts when they became clear. We all know the degree to which Harper's political career has been based upon a simple strategy of lying. Say the economy is healthy even when it's in decline. Say you are vigorously defending the environment even as you are rapidly deregulating in such a way as to make the environment significantly more vulnerable. Tell people that you are making government more transparent and accountable even while you are blatantly making government more secretive and top heavy. Appoint a Minster for "Democratic Reform" who actually actively attempts to make government less democratic.  It is all part of a strategy that says, as a government you can do almost anything you want as long as you keep saying publicly that you are doing something else. And the strategy has working shockingly well given the depth and blatantness of the lies involved. The success is, I suppose, partly a result of media collusion, but we have to hold average people largely responsible, people who are simply too lazy to be informed citizens and simply parrot the talking points that they are fed by a deceptive administration.

And given the relative success of this strategy of blatant lying, it is hardly surprising that Harper has now double downed  on it. A lot of what a government does is complex. And complex issues are things that can be debated, confusing, and difficult to understand. Thus, the strategy of writing legislation that is really designed to weaken our environmental laws while saying publicly that you are strengthening them, can be sadly effective. Environmental legislation, for example, has long term implications and impacts, statistics can be intentionally misused, etc. Similarly, the economy is measured and understood in a lot of different ways, so saying that the economy is healthy even when you know it not to be, is not huge leap. But what happens when the facts that you are denying are relatively simple? Does a blatant lie, one that almost everyone uniformly understands to be a lie, make a politician more vulnerable, or has our political discourse become so twisted and perverted that a blatant lie just rolls off people's backs? This is the question to which we will see the answer in the next few weeks. As recently as today Stephen Harper has continued to say that only two people knew about the illegal payment to Mike Duffy. This is not a complicated lie, it is not one that can be hidden behind statistics and policy approaches, future targets, or ideological emphasis. It is a straightforward, unadulterated, simple lie. Sworn statements to the police, a mountain of emails, and testimony in court demonstrate that it is a lie. Stephen Harper's problem is that it is a lie that he has maintained for years, and though many people assumed it was a lie, it is only now clearly and demonstrably false. This puts the Government in a rather awkward position - they are now forced to simply deny the facts as everyone knows them. It is like a spouse being caught red-handed in bed with someone else and simply saying "but I wasn't cheating."  

The depth of someone's duplicitousness is only really understood when they are caught red-handed in a lie. A psychopath will often continue to maintain their innocence even when exposure is full and unadulterated. This can be a result of a mental illness so deep that they can't actually bring themselves to admit to themselves that they have been duplicitous. Or it can simply be a result of a personality that is so twisted and/or so childlike that they are too weak to admit wrongdoing.

For whatever their personal reasons, Harper and those around him are now simply blatantly denying facts which are publicly known and understood. And luckily for them, they have so effectively taken over the RCMP that they are basically immune from prosecution. Because, make no mistake, this is what is going on here. If the RCMP continued to be an independent organization, several people, including Ray Novak and Nigel Wright would already be under arrest. So the only question left is - is our democracy (though weakened) strong enough to save itself?


the salamander said...

.. I've made the observation previously .. will state it again.. Harper et al realized that a daily regimen of deceit carries essentially no penalty in today's Political and Mainstream Media world.. just lie and deny.. and the higher you pile the deceit, the better.. so it becomes a muddled blur.. and if you get caught out.. as if ! As The Government. you have the unlimited funds and thousands of 'Justice Lawyers' to delay obstruct or appeal. That's the only Harper legacy.. litigation against the nation.. repeat repeat repeat .. if you don't have a shred of truth, ethics or accountability, just invent delays until you've made it a contest of funding.... and have altered the related legislation to compensate.. even to the extent of making it retroactive or radioactive.. hence Harper and Peter Kent approving air dropping strychnine poison baits on Alberta boreal wolves after 5 or 6 years of exhausting all appeals tp enact protection for boreal caribou that no longer had any habitat due to Tar Sands incursions.. Look it up.. it sums up the Harper Approach perfectly.. collateral damage to dozens of other species be damned.. let them eat poison and die.. Its The Economy, Stupids ... !!

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Harpers authoritarian agenda, and the full dismantling of democracy if he gets reelected with a majority in Oct. is all that Harper is focused on, achieving ultimate power. All through his leadership he has not governed, but pursued power. Laying the groundwork for acquiring this power, including incremental neoliberal policies does not require telling the truth.Lying is inherent in becoming a despot, because it's the hidden agenda, that if truth be told,the tyranny would be revealed. This is where I really blame the MSM. For the most part they have listened to Harpers lies, knowing they are lies, have kept quiet about his governing in secrecy and have given him a complete pass on his dismantling of our democracy, while he paves the way toward becoming the dictatorial ruler of Canada. The opposition are just as much to blame in their silence about the dictatorial power Harper is after. Harpers journey toward total control of Canada as any dictator wannabe knows requires constant secrecy and lies.He is not concerned about the truth. He is not even concerned that Canadians know he is lying. It does not matter if they are complex or blatant lies, he tells them to achieve his ultimate goal. It is this ultimate goal that needs to be exposed. It matters not to Harper if the road toward creating a dictatorship is paved by lies from hin. He will say anything to get where he wants to go. If he succeeds in his pursuit of power, then it will be too late for the lies that he used to achieve that power to matter. Holding Harper to account if he gets a majority in Oct. can only happen in a free country and destroying that freedom is what all of Harpers lying has been about.

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Scotian said...

While I agree with everything you wrote, you failed IMHO to note one additional important, nay key element which enabled the Harper deception scheme, namely the Layton/NDP choice to side with Harper in their mutual aim of destroying the Libs instead of siding with the Libs who were the ONLY consistent voices warning of how dangerous Harper was. By the end of 2005 the NDP were the ones with the credibility and the Libs on their own had very little, so if the NDP then had sided with the Libs at that point onward in pointing to the Harper history and what it showed it would have been far harder for him to gain power, and even if he had with a minority again it would have been far harder for the media to give him a pass with a united opposition to have to cover. This in turn would have almost certainly prevented a majority and possibly prevented more than that first minority, especially given how close he came to being defeated in 2008. If the history between the Libs and NDP at that point had been a united front against Harper all along, I rather suspect the coalition wouldn't have fallen apart, AND because they had been so aligned over the prior two years would have made the Harper screams of it being some kind of coup a lot harder to sell.

This is a point I've been making since at least 2005 onward, it is one of the core reasons I have a blowtorch fury with the NaDP these days, and why I blame them and so many Dipper partisans for allowing their hatred and competitiveness with the Libs blind themselves to the much greater threat/danger Harper posed to progressive values and policies, and allowed them to feel like they could get away with playing the expediency game to gain power because then they would just fix the damage and it be worth the cost to Canada. This is a point I have made over and over and over again so I am not going to do the full chapter and verse yet again, but I think it needs to be included, that one of the main opposition parties was part of this failure and enabled this reality to come to pass out of sheer electoral expediency, which when that party still like to dine on the claim they are a different kind of party, a party with principles, and values that you can trust unlike those other nasty parties, I think needs remembering.

to be concluded...

Scotian said...


Well, the damage is not all fixable, and the precedents set during this decade will have major long term effects, and this is as much on the choices of the NaDP as it is the lying of the Harper CPC and the way so much of the national media caved in to the Harper media treatment over the minority years until we got to the majority where he just stopped caring at all anymore. Part of what enabled the Harper CPC to normalize itself was that equating of Libs with them by Dippers for the last decade, it also made it easier for the media to normalize/moderate the image of Harper and his CPC, and made it harder to get the truth out about what an extremist he truly was, and had always been. This is an important element, and Harper used it for all he could. He didn't just use the NaDP to divide the vote, he used it for all of this, and again, I was making this point for a decade now, this isn't hindsight I'm using.

I blame several factors, but this one is important because it also would have made clear just how out of the mainstream Harper really was to the average citizen/voter who isn't the political animal we all are, which again was something I kept pointing out all along. It would have made the media more accountable or more obvious as a propaganda arm, whichever of the two turned out to be true, and it would have made it far harder for the average voter to be so easily deceived to this point. Imagine how different this nation would be if we had never had a Harper Government(tm), or just a short 2 year minority with him, and then gone back to the Libs with the NDP aligned mainly with them in minority while advancing their own agenda. Imagine how quickly the CPC would have tossed Harper aside for his inability to either gain or hold power despite the conditions of the time. THIS is what Layton and the NDP leadership (and the party membership just meekly to enthusiastically went along with it) CHOSE to throw away when they teamed up with Harper against the Libs instead of the other way around to prevent the rise of the most anti-progressive, anti-democratic leader and party in Canada history, and such a person and party being so by a very wide margin from anything prior, including the Chretein/Martin Libs, despite what some Dipper partisans would have people believe.

This clearly played an important role in what you describe Kirby, and I believe in making sure credit is given where it is due, and blame/responsibility where it is due, and this is one the NaDP was not a minor contributor in. It took their collusion with Harper to help create this environment, and it is a powerful indictment of their so called commitment to principles these days that they played this kind of risky power expediency games, to an endgame I do not think you could fairly level at prior Lib or PCPC leaders/governments. Say what you will about both, but neither would have allowed this kind of extremist destroyer anywhere near 24 Sussex Drive, which was in part why Harper had to murder the PCPC, and why he needed the NDP to join with him in castrating the Libs beyond the damage the Libs had done to themselves by that point. I kept saying that abuse of power scandals were far more corrupt, more corrosive, more dangerous, than anything the Libs had against them by 2005, which was why I was saying them leaving them in power was still far less dangerous and corrosive to democracy than even a Harper minority let alone majority. Well time proved me right and the NDP wrong here, and they need to wear what they own as much as everyone else does in life IMHO.

THAT is why I say you need to include them as an important element in why Harper has gotten away with te deception schemes he has over the last decade.

doconnor said...

Scotian, for most of Harper's minority years the Liberals unconditionally supported the Conservatives. The Conservatives government was largely a continuation of the deficit obsessed, corporate tax slashing government of the Liberals.