Falsehood is not a matter of narration technique but something premeditated as a perversion of truth…
The shadow of a hair’s turning, premeditated for an untrue purpose,
the slightest twisting or perversion of that which is principle—these constitute falseness.
—The Urantia Book
In arguably the greatest martial arts flick of all time, Enter the Dragon (1973), Bruce Lee infiltrates the island fortress of his arch enemy, Master Han. Han is a renegade monk from Lee’s own Shaolin temple, a traitor who matter-of-factly admits that he has chosen to invest in corruption (which includes addicting young women to heroin and selling them on the sexual slave market).
The film’s climatic fight scene takes place inside Han’s living quarters. Lee’s speed, skill, and agility is clearly too much for Han, and he flees into a dressing room full of mirrors. Chasing after him, Lee is confounded by the many images of himself and of Han, who has the advantage of knowing how and where the mirrors are placed. Han alternately hides and stalks him, wielding a nasty multi-bladed weapon, waiting for just the right moment to deliver a killing blow.
Lee, already on the edge of exhaustion after a number of fights, strikes out at one false image after another. His hands bleeding, an image of his sister’s past suicide suddenly enters his mind. Trapped in a cluttered warehouse by Han’s goons who are intent on raping her (motivated all the more by the fact that up to that point she had thoroughly kicked their sorry asses), she picks up a glass shard and takes her own life. Lee draws strength and inspiration from her honorable death, and one by one, begins breaking the remaining mirrors, shattering the illusory Hans until the real one is revealed. In short order, Lee avenges his sister’s death and restores the honor of his disgraced monastery.
I was reminded of the film today as I watched GOP wunderkind and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan making the rounds of the major network morning shows, desperately trying to restore the illusion of his former persona. Like waking up in bed next to a dubious stranger picked up in a bar after a night of heavy drinking, the establishment press is finally waking up to the fact that their infatuation with a politician they had considered a wonky, glamorous, straight shooting nice guy is just another sleazy huckster intent on fucking over whoever he needs to achieve his political ambitions.
To take just once instance of Ryan’s mendacity, consider his nomination speech at the RNC convention last week in which he decried the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. He implied that the closing was Obama’s fault, notwithstanding that it formerly closed its doors a month before he took office.
“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in [June]2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.“
After weathering a shit storm of media backlash for that and a number of other lies, Ryan hit the network television morning circuit today to explain his fabrications. As for the plant closing matter, he protested that he didn’t really lie, arguing that the media just didn’t parse his words finely enough. As he explained on NBC‘s Today Show :
“What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying; read the speech. What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It’s still idle.”
Of course that’s what they were suggesting, because that is what YOU were suggesting, you lyin’ sack of shit. Even if you didn’t accuse Obama directly of being responsible for closing the plant, you impLIED it. As a matter of fact, after taking office, Obama did take steps to reopen plants “like” Janesville, the operative word here being “like.” Unfortunately for Janesville workers and affiliated businesses, the bailout money didn’t include their particular plant. But that was due to a decision made by GM itself, not the White House, who from the get go eschewed any hands-on micromanaging.
Read again the definition of falsehood and falseness given in The Urantia Book quote above, and then compare it, first, to the definition of falsehood given in Merriam Webster:
1 an untrue statement : lie
2 absence of truth or accuracy
3 the practice of lying : mendacity;
and second, the definition of falseness found at Brainyquote.com:
The state of being false; contrariety to the fact; inaccuracy; want of integrity or uprightness; double dealing; unfaithfulness; treachery; perfidy; as, the falseness of a report, a drawing, or a singer’s notes; the falseness of a man, or of his word.
So, as synonyms for the art of lying we have words like: lie, perfidy, mendacity, treachery, double dealing, want of integrity, etc.– all perfect descriptions of The Lyin Ryan Express.
What drives The Urantia Book description home is not its use of the comparatively tame words, “falsehood” and “falsenesss” Rather the power of its metaphor– the shadow of a hair’s turning, which suggests a fine line between truthhood and falsity. The kind of fine line that funambulating liars like Ryan and his ilk think they can walk because they believe they can get away with it, especially in the wake of recent US Supreme Court decisions that equates money with speech, enabling a maximum level of what practitioners of military psy ops call perception management.
The fact that the MSM is finally pushing back on the GOP propaganda machine is a good sign. Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back was the statement by Romney campaign adviser and pollster, Neil Newhouse, who declared:
“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
Of course not. As the sainted Ronnie Reagan once proclaimed: “Facts are stubborn things“, certainly nothing that the Rovians should feel constrained by. Recall what Karl Rove said to author Ron Suskind:
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
As a consequence, the Rovians have lived in an elaborate house of mirrors for so long now that they are mistaking their own distorted reflections for reality. The growing presence of “fact checker” sites, the progressive blogosphere, and and increasingly aggressive push by MSNBC to counter Roger Ailes‘ Fux News Propaganda Network, could actually make a difference in the coming election, one shattered mirror at a time.
Heck, a guy can dream, can’t he?