Lies Trump All

Mark B. Odom tries to pinpoint the source of the epic, heartbreaking, ridiculous train wreck that the 2016 US presidential race has become. Election Day is less than two weeks away.

Mark B. Odom tries to pinpoint the source of the epic, heartbreaking, ridiculous train wreck that the 2016 US presidential race has become. Election Day is less than two weeks away.

Karstein Volle

Karstein Volle

Feel the Bern

I’ve been struggling with how to start this. It’s not like any of us need to read another two words about the 2016 US presidential election until November 9th. The other required words in that sentence will be “and the next president of the United States is…”

The fact is I caught the Bern early on in this thing and thought he really was gonna do it. But alas “many people are saying” that the Democratic presidential primary was rigged against Larry David’s adopted twin. What can you do? So I’m not enthusiastic about Mrs. Rodham C. but really have no choice – considering the divisive, vulgar and dangerous alternative.

You Never Had It So Good

When I think back to the presidential debates I’ve seen since the late 80s, for the most part they were unremarkably factual and dry, and few memorable quotes came out of them. Maybe back then it was the VP debates that had the real action?

Oh, dear reader, if you think the recent debates and campaign rhetoric is spicy now, wait til you hear some zingers of yesteryear! During a vice presidential debate in 1988, when G.W. Bush’s running mate, the relatively young 41 year-old Dan Quayle suggested that he was as experienced as John F. Kennedy was when he ran for president, in terms of length of congressional service. His opponent, Lloyd “Badass” Bentsen (Texas senator and Democratic VP nominee on the Michael Dukakis ticket) killed it. And he reportedly had the line ready to go before the debate: “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

 

Remember that? That was a center-stage bodyslam with Bentson kicking Quayle’s uptight, Murphy Brown-obsessed ass and it was fucking awesome. But that’s as risque as it got.

I remember listening to it on the car radio with my friend Andy. He came from a real-deal Massachusetts, Irish American Catholic family, complete with two-and-a-half dozen brothers and sisters, and they all seemed to be Democrats. The condition appeared to be genetic.

Cracked Actor

I was in my late teens at the end of Reagan’s reign, and still feeling vaguely paranoid about a nuclear end to the Cold War, so I didn’t know what was up as far as US politics were concerned. But when Bentson zung that zinger, to us at least, he won. I’ll always remember the giddy excitement of that early October night.

I reckon teenagers these days have a harder time finding similar excitement in the current presidential race. While there certainly are plenty of soundbites, this election, candidates are using rhetoric as simple attacks, lies and occasional calls for anarchy. If there could be a worse assortment of eligible presidential candidates in the US, I’d have a difficult time finding them. But have the candidates ever truly been very good?

While there certainly are plenty of soundbites, this election, candidates are using rhetoric as simple attacks, lies and occasional calls for anarchy.

Mick Maguire

Mick Maguire

What we’re seeing is the veil being pulled away from the screen; we’re learning about scandal after scandal that would have taken down any previous presidential candidate, forcing them to immediate retirement from the public eye with a lifetime of shame ahead. We see scandals like these over and over again now. Sometimes several scandals a day.

Guilt-free lies

But we don’t care about them anymore, because apparently we don’t care about ourselves. We don’t care about the truth, in fact most of us live the opposite of it every day.

Everything’s fake. When you wake up in the morning you suck down a cup from that “free” packet of coffee you got with a “valid purchase.” You toast the one of the “free” English muffins you got when they said “MORE for the same LOW PRICE!” in the toaster you elbowed your way through a Wal-Mart to buy on sale on Black Friday. Then you spread on some fat-free, gluten-free, carb-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, preservative-free, lactose-free and calorie-free shit on your muffin. Along with some fake sweetener and “protein beverages” that are actually just fucking milk, you’re having a fake breakfast. But who cares, it’s all fake, right?

The “unlimited data” plan you pay dearly for is very limited, actually, but no problem. It’s just like getting “cash back” for buying a new car or falling for any number of scams, TV home shopping offers and fake universities.

Then you spread on some fat-free, gluten-free, carb-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, preservative-free, lactose-free and calorie-free shit on your muffin. Along with some fake sweetener and “protein beverages” that are actually just fucking milk, you’re having a fake breakfast. But who cares, it’s all fake, right?

When kids are diagnosed as hyperactive, parents are often recommended to give them legal speed. The prescription opiates which have hooked a generation of Americans are perfectly legal, while too many people rot in for-profit prisons for nonviolent drug offenses and on and on… America is suffering from a case of pandemic fibbing.

Rage radio refugee

As we know, for the most part Democrats and Republicans have been selling voters the same heap of lies over and over again too, but there is no need for adjustment because they’re used to this false reality.

Twenty-odd years ago I graduated from journalism school, a few years after the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which removed the obligation of television and radio stations to present an opposing political view if one was made.

This landmark legislation was the deformed sperm that fertilized the fetid egg of political AM talk radio and the wretched deluge of misinformation and lies that continue to spew on American airwaves to this day. Back then listeners of the genre were called “angry white men,” now coincidentally it’s the same term used today for males who support Donald Trump.

This landmark legislation was the deformed sperm that fertilized the fetid egg of political AM talk radio and the wretched deluge of misinformation and lies that continue to spew on American airwaves to this day.

Journalism school was a great learning experience for the most part. I had a gruff professor who hit me hard on learning the inverted triangle and I figured out how to write a good lead-in and honed my magazine writing skills. But to my recollection not a single professor mentioned the internet to us once. I graduated university in 1993.

Robert Shele

Robert Shele

Superhighway of crud

When the information superhighway started, everyone was excited how we would soon all become walking encyclopedias, with the ability to access any information at any time. Now, more than a couple decades on, virtually everyone in the country has some kind of access to a vastly complex network of data and knowledge mankind has ever known. And we use it to send selfies, smash jewels, read dumb tweets and to vote on Dancing on the Stars or whatever it’s called. Sure, some people find and create accurate “real” information somewhere on there, but increasingly it doesn’t matter if what’s on the internet is true.

…we use it to send selfies, smash jewels, read dumb tweets and to vote on Dancing on the Stars or whatever it’s called.

At a recent rally for the Republican candidate, the hand-impaired, Alec Baldwin lookalike unironically advised his followers to stop following the “mainstream media” and to instead turn to “the internet” for their news. Makes perfect sense. The reality of this upside down situation is that it’s common knowledge that bankers bet on markets to crash and a large number of citizens who do actually vote often do it against their own interests, allowing politicians to be as “real” as they please – because they’ve all figured it out now – this is how it works.

Are we really surprised that a bloated ex-reality show host – an accused serial sex offender with abysmal ethics history and an intellectually dishonest, perpetual liar with a selfish temper – may soon be in charge of the nuclear missile keys for the next four nightmarish years?

Many Americans are stuck in low-wage jobs that they can’t afford to leave, sometimes several of them. They know something’s wrong, despite all the lies. And they want to do something about it.

Are we really surprised that a bloated ex-reality show host – an accused serial sex offender with abysmal ethics history and an intellectually dishonest, perpetual liar with a selfish temper – may soon be in charge of the nuclear missile keys for the next four nightmarish years?

But it’s not only lower-income folks who still support him.

You should have known better

Billionaire co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, is a big proponent of the Orange Man.
Thiel, a venture capitalist, was also an early investor in Facebook and sits on their board of directors. Not too long ago he contributed $1.25 million to the Trump campaign. There was a backlash, with widespread calls for him to be fired from his post.

According to the LA Times, no executive or investor in a major high-tech company from Silicon Valley, is featured on a list of corporate signatories in a recent open letter supporting Trump. Thiel is basically on his own. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg more or less said that it was a matter of free speech. Thiel should be able to keep his seat on the board.

In a podcast on the TWiT Network last week, Fortune Magazine tech writer Stacey Higginbotham – while addressing the at-odds-with-itself politics of Silicon Valley – made a broader, more terrifying observation about gender and what could be the new standard for “viable candidates” in America.

“As a woman, if Trump is able to become President that really says a lot about what’s allowed in our culture. And people can be like ‘no, no, I still love women I would never do that blah, blah, blah… But if you can say those things, and be accused of those things and still become President of the United States and have people stand behind you, that’s kind of like giving money to David Duke (ex-Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and current US Senate candidate in Louisiana) and electing him president because you liked his economic policy. ‘Uh, he’s not great for blacks, but, you know!'”

“I feel like people don’t understand the depths of that,” Higginbotham says. “It baffles me!”

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Trump’s base – around 40 percent of all voters, if you believe the polls – don’t appear to care much about what crazy shit he says or is accused of doing. In fact, many seem to like it when he goes off the deep end. “He’s so real! He says what others are afraid to say,” we’ve heard so many times.

In fact, many seem to like it when he goes off the deep end. “He’s so real! He says what others are afraid to say,” we’ve heard so many times.

Compared to everyone and everything else around these days, he’s about as real as anything. Just like everyone else, at the end of each day the downtrodden deplorables go home to eat dinner and watch TV. Often it’s reality shows. But just like non-entity breakfast spreads, reality TV isn’t real either. The people in them are real though, and of course they emerge into the real world.

And sometimes they run for president.

 

Photo Credits:

D & H Shining on 14th St., Washington DC: by Mike Maguire / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Donald Trump necktie, Made in China: by Robert Shele // Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Donald Trump grafitti, London: by Matt Brown // Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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  • Mark.B Odom - One Quart Magazine

    Mark B. Odom’s day job is as a journalist and news anchor at the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle. He spends his free time wri...

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