In thinking up the title for this rant, I simply wanted a word based on “canard” (French for “duck”), but with the epic failure of “Armada” incorporated.  As it happens, “carnada” is the Spanish word for “bait” or “chum”, which suits my purpose perfectly.  Thank you, language gods.

I recently flew, which I do rarely, and got reminded of something I’ll call Mudge’s Fourth Law:

“The loudest voice at the picnic is a child squealing about nothing, while we whisper that the tuna salad is rotten.”

It was demonstrated thus:

When the gate from which your flight is leaving changes, or the flight is rescheduled, or there’s something that you really ought to hear about boarding instructions, the way it is announced is very likely to be unintelligible.

Really.  Anyone reading this now could plug about $30 worth of mics and speakers into the computer you’re using and make an announcement with much better sound quality than the PA systems at the gates in LAX.  If you have decent enunciation, so much the better.  If you know enough not to shout or breathe into the mic and make distortion, infinitely better.

Now compare this to the nice, crisp, high-fidelity systems that idiots install in their cars to broadcast music and stupidity to a three-block radius as they’re driving, and the meaning of the Fourth Law should be obvious.

Sometimes the poor communication of what’s most important is deliberate.  See this article about the cops telling people to get off the roadway at the Brooklyn Bridge:

There’s a also a whole industry devoted to burying the lead and shouting feel-good nonsense.  It’s called “Public Relations”.  They practice a lot of tricks like:

“Hey, I saved an acre of wetlands.  I’m a green company.
Forget my oil spills.”

“Always release bad news on Friday, when half the people are taking the day off early.  Many don’t read the news from Friday to Monday.”

It’s a science that people devote whole lives to.

Should I list a few examples of high-volume, high-fidelity nonsense?

Ok, yeah, the Bachmanns, Cains, Perrys, O’Reillys, Boehners & such are full of them.  Just to mention a few:

“The rich are rich because they are deserving.”

“The healthy are healthy because they are deserving.”

“Government intervention is the root of all evil, unless it’s protecting my property, enforcing religion, or bringing ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ to people who never asked for it.”

“Liberals are all rich people pretending to care out of some guilt, or something.”

“Liberals are all communist revolutionaries who want to massacre anyone who’s not poor.”

But we’re used to this stuff from Republicans.  Of course they’re clowns.  That’s their job.  See “spelling it out for you“.

What’s more worth talking about is when the people who pretend to be on OUR side start trolling like this.  They do it a lot.  Yes, I’m talking about some really high-profile people
who have done some good communication about real issues from time to time.

Ok, confession time.  We often have MSNBC on at home, mainly because the alternatives are so much worse.  That’s one bit of lesser evilism that I’ve settled for quite a lot.  If you
don’t know already, they are mostly shills for the Dem Party.  When they rail against the Dems for being “gutless” and letting themselves be “bullied” by Reps, you know that’s just the Dem Party narrative that they’ve been ordered to promote.

So what’s the Dem Party narrative this week?

Sandusky and Penn State.  Nearly wall-to-wall coverage of one pedophile is almost exclusively what they use to relieve us from the usual litany of gaffs by Rep candidates.

Now, I enjoy watching Republicans drool all over themselves as much as the next guy, but when it’s 60-70% of the minutes used by Al, Chris, Ed, Rachel, and Lawrence, all afternoon and all evening, it gets old.

It also gets old, day after day, to talk about one criminal shielded by a self-serving sporting (Read:  “show biz”) organization.  This goes on for hours throughout the day, on one channel.

This is the bait.  The distraction.  The child shrieking that there’s sand between his toes,  who interrupts all adult conversation.

In exile over on Current, Keith Olberman is at least giving decent coverage to the biggest story of the last two months, the Occupations.  MSNBC mentions this now only when something really big happens, like the bulldozers in New York and the big marches in reaction.  They’re quite happy to piggyback on the occupations for issue advocacy, but rarely have first-hand interviews with participants, as Keith does.

So what’s the rotten tuna salad?

Very little is heard these days about how mass murderers, kidnappers and torturers are shielded by a Dem President, because he’s a Dem, of course.  In fact, Obama’s actions,
overt or not, in the name of “national security” are nearly universally lauded.  The mass murderers are protected because making a big public deal about war crimes and “renditions” might hurt the institution that Obama’s in charge of.   Ummm….. sound familiar? (Penn State again, idiots.  Compare the magnitude of the two cases.)

Case in point:  I still hear Julian Assange referred to on this “liberal” network as “fighting extradition to face rape charges in Sweden”.  In fact, no charges of any kind have been filed against him in Sweden, or anywhere else.  He is simply wanted “for questioning”, and once in Sweden, can be detained indefinitely and extradited to the U.S. without any charges being filed.  See:
Kinda like the de facto legal system in the U.S.  Once someone calls you a “terrorist” or “gang member”, the Bill of Rights no longer applies.

The brazenly partisan nature of this network’s motives was on full display in Lawrence O’Donnell’s comment near the end of his show on On Oct. 10.  I made a note of this one, because it was so lame.

He took the example of a “sense of the Senate” resolution about taxing people with more than a milliion in income in an attempt to make a point.  The vote was strictly along party lines.  O’Donnell somehow tried to tell us that this was significant:

“When anyone tries to tell you there’s not much difference between the
two parties, when anyone tries to tell you there’s some sort of protect the
rich conspiracy going on in Washington run by the Republi-crat party, some
ugly governing force that controls both parties, point to this vote.  Point
to July 13th, 2011, in the United States Senate.

“Fifty-one Democrats saying that those earning more than a million
dollars per year should make a more meaningful contribution, and every —
every Republican voting against that.  No difference between the parties?
There’s a million dollar difference between the parties right there.”

O’Donnell worked as an aide to Patrick Moynihan and had other positions on the Senate staff.  He knows of which he speaks… with forked tongue.

Anyone who has worked around a legislative body where representatives are ostensibly answerable to people who put them there knows that there are two reasons for voting for or against something:

(1)  You really want it to pass or fail.

(2)  You want it to LOOK like you want it to pass or fail.

When the fate of the thing being voted on is well-known by all participants, the second reason applies much more than the first.  The vote in this case was entirely for appearances, and had no force of law.  This was a freebie for anyone who wanted to say “I voted to tax millionaires.”  or “I voted against raising taxes.” to the right constituencies back home, without actually doing anything.

So that’s the difference between Dems & Reps:  the groups that they want to dupe for votes.  It’s the easiest thing in the world for a Dem who voted for it to tell his well-heeled contributors:  “I just did that for appearances.”  He doesn’t even have to say it.  They already know it.  They know that, if they play their contributions right, the Congress as a whole will never do anything to really irritate the money, and that symbolic votes are simply an appeal to the poor, dumb bastards who still think there’s a difference
between the “two” parties.

You’ve done some good stuff in the past, Lawrence, but this is maximum fail.  There’s also a lead being buried here.  The lead story, if one wishes to fully understand how corrupt
and self serving both “major” parties are, is that it DOESN’T MATTER whether there’s any real difference between them on most issues.  They fully agree on the most basic issue:  that all other parties should be suppressed.  Any country with a claim to having “democracy” would have more than “two” choices on the ballot.  It would be far easier to start a new party and get it on the ballot.  There would also be an election system that is not plurality-takes-all.  Read if you don’t know what I’m talking about.  Among countries that have any credibility to their elections at all, the U.S. has one of
the worst bodies of election law in the world.

Now this “difference between the parties” thing is likely to start coming up more, with the non-partisan Occupy movement bringing up some issues that neither big party ever really wanted to address.  As people drift in their thinking from protests to elections, the “third option” dream is likely to arise.  It has already, here and there.  You all know what course of electoral action I favor, and I mention it from time to time.  One response I’ve had seemed to think it was nothing to just make another “third” party, skipping over the Greens, for whatever reason.  Some mention was made of avoiding the Greens’ “baggage”.

I pretty well ended the conversation by asking “Do you have any idea what it takes to get a new party on the ballot in all 50 states?”  The GP has been saying everything that the Occupy movement has been saying for 20 years, and already has ballot access in 20 or 30 states, a result of MUCH labor.  Does it make any sense to start over from scratch?


Yeah, I can think of some baggage we have.  Lots more than any non-member would know about.  There’s none of it that couldn’t be cured by an influx of new members.

But what “baggage” in particular might they have been talking about?  What scared people away from us the most, that a lot of people might have heard of?  Hmmm….  You couldn’t
be referring to that bait of a canard of ducks of carnadas, the “Nader/Florida/Spoiler Effect” thing could you?

Someone I like, who has written some good stuff and really should know better (The bio says “taught political science at UC Irvine”.) recently wrote about “regretting”…”two Ralph Nader votes” (presumably in 1996 and 2000).

This is someone who lived in California at the time of those votes.  Aside from the usual “Blame Nader” canards, this one shows ignorance of the Electoral College.  Really.  Your vote for President in any other state could not, by the wildest theoretical fantasy, have had any influence on the result in Florida.  You really ought to know that.

But that one was easy:  “If the sand between your toes bothers you, knock it out.”  The childish cry usually takes a different form:  to say that Nader shouldn’t have run, because if he hadn’t it would have somehow avoided everything bad that happened during the Bush administration.  Greens have been playing Whac-A-Mole with this for a long time.

It rests on several premises:

(1) That in an alternate universe in which Nader was not on the ballot, all the same people would have voted in 2000 that voted
in our universe.

(2) That in that Universe #2, more of the otherwise “Nader voters” would have chosen Gore than Bush, to a degree large enough to carry Florida for Gore on the first count.

(3) That having Gore in the White House would have made a big difference in the odious policies of the years 2001-2009.

I’ve generally avoided addressing this matter because others have done a pretty good job of it without me.  See:

…but let’s just make a thumbnail sketch of what’s wrong with each premise.

Premise #1 is the most absurd, by a wide margin.

It assumes that nothing in the universe is dependent on anything else.  Dems know for certain that one of their chief tools in getting out the vote among their own core voters was promoting the “spoiler” fear.  Without Nader in the race, fewer Dems would have shown
up to vote.  Many other things would have been different if you change one element in making your alternate universe, but this is a big one.  Also, the unstated premise of #2 factors in here.  If you assume that most Nader voters would choose a Dem as a second choice, that means that the increased turnout of Greens and independents that Nader created was certainly of benefit to down-ticket Dems, where there were few Greens
running against them.  Without Nader running, Rep control of the Senate would have been solid in 2000, for instance.

Premise #2 is destroyed by Sam Smith’s article above.  Gore and Nader were, for the most part, NOT DRAWING ON THE EACH OTHER’S VOTERS.  When Gore went up in the polls, the fraction of it that could have come from Nader is so tiny as to be statistically insignificant.  The same when Gore went down in the polls.  There’s also a much-quoted article from Al From in which he cites polling data to the effect that, without Nader in the race, Bush would have done better, but I haven’t found the source of his data:
The DLC is a poor source for facts in any case, but it’s there.

Premise #3 is wildly speculative, and brings in all the old questions of “Man makes history, or history makes man?”

What if Lee had fought for the North?

What if the Indians (both east and west) had had a strong leader against the British early on?

What if Tsarina Elizabeth hadn’t died when she did?

What if Superman had been German?

Let’s just take up the biggest deals of the Bush Administration — the two new wars and new police state powers:

(1)  The Afghan war

Clearly prompted by 9/11.  Yeah, trust the Dems to keep us out of war.

Remember how Dems were always called “soft on Communism” during the Cold War, and got themselves into some deep doodoo fighting that image, LBJ in particular?  How much more would this have applied to a Gore White House after 9/11?

(2)  The invasion of Iraq

Clinton knew that the state of affairs in Iraq was unsustainable.  The murderous sanctions and no-fly zone, imposed by the U.S. and Britain alone, were coming under international pressure.  The no-fly zone was failing to provoke the much wished-for causus belli, but Clinton said that he was leaving it to his successor to decide what to do.  Note that the “WMD” claims we heard from the Bushies were only slight enhancements of what the Clinton administration had claimed all along.  Dems generally give other Dems a pass on anything bellicose, so there would have been much less antiwar movement if Gore had brought up the prospect of invasion.  The burden of proof is really on anyone who thinks
this would have been somehow better under Gore.

(3)  The USA PATRIOT Act

Though ostensibly prompted by 9/11, Everyone knows that the USA PATRIOT Act was a wish list compiled by various “law enforcement” agencies under the Clinton administration.  They were simply waiting for the right moment to push for it.  Burden of proof again.  Overwhelming majorities of both Dems and Reps in Congress voted for it without even reading it.

I doubt that any of us have time for this kind of speculation, but the canards keep on coming, whatever I do.  Our friends should know better.

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  1. Wow. Don’t know where to start…Great pictures? I only watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart so I avoid getting this cranked up about stuff. You’re well informed–much more than I am. Still, I’d rather be in the dark and a bit more calm than in the harsh light of day and so frustrated. Our political system is broken for lots of reasons. Mostly, I think, because we have career politicians who live in a world that is so different than the world they supposedly represent. That’s just one reason, though. There are so many more…but I feel my heart racing and I’m sitting down. Not good. 😉

  2. Pingback: CARNADA RELAUNCHED | kitchenmudge

  3. Brian Good says:

    I agree that the Dems sometimes go to stupid and extreme lengths to avoid being labelled as “soft”. It’s Obama, after all, who claims that he has the right to murder American citizens with no judicial oversight, who claims that deliberations within the Executive Branch constitute “due process” sufficient to deprive a citizen of his life.

    That being said, I don’t think that 9/11 could have happened under a Gore administration. It’s an ancillary point to this discussion, but one that’s important to me. Clinton had ordered the CIA to kill bin Laden, and they didn’t do it. His National Security Advisor wanted commando raids on the al Qaeda camps and the Secretary of Defense opposed the idea. The Navy imposed impractical restrictions on the launching of cruise missiles at the camps. By the end of the Clinton administration al Qaeda’s responsibility for the attack on the USS Cole had been established, and a plan to “roll back” al Qaeda through a combination of military actions and interference with the group’s banking relationships had been drafted by Richard Clarke–and would have been implemented before President Gore even took office.

    When the Supreme Court installed Bush as President, Clinton elected to hold off on the assault on bin Laden. Clarke’s plan was presented in January of 2001 to Bush’s team (Dr. Condoleezza Rice and her subordinate Dr. Philip Zelikow.) They not only ignored Clarke’s plan until a few days before 9/11, Dr. Zelikow reorganized the National Security Council such that Richard Clarke no longer was allowed to communicate to the Cabinet directly. Dr. Rice testified under oath to the 9/11 Commission that she could not remember if she had spoken to the President about the presence of al Qaeda cells inside the USA. She also claimed under oath that the CIA’s famous “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” memo was “not a warning”. Dr. Zelikow became the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, and he was overheard phoning the CIA authors of that report to try to get them to endorse Dr. RIce’s claim. They refused.

    The USA had known since 1995 about al Qaeda’s plot to fly hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and other targets. That’s why the airspace over the Atlanta Olympics was closed in 1996. In 2001 there were warnings from 12 foreign countries, 4 FBI offices, and the CIA about upcoming al Qaeda attacks. Germany and the UK warned of the use of hijacked commercial aircraft as flying bombs. The Mossad warning even named names of alleged 9/11 perpetrators–and then the Mossad went to the moon with the “Dancing Israelis” incident to publicize the fact that they knew about the attack in advance.

    It is inconceivable that a Gore administration would have ignored these warnings. One of Bush’s first acts as president was to order the FBI to go easy on the Saudis, including relatives of bin Laden.

    • kitchenmudge says:

      “What if…” games are fun, aren’t they? Here’s another: What if we had all known that J. Edgar Hoover was a drag queen back around, oh, 1962?

      • Brian Good says:

        The practical question might better be framed as “What if J. Edgar Hoover had not been permitted to wage a blackmail reign of terror throughout the beltway, and what if the US news and TV and film media had not been afraid of him, and what if the TV ‘dramas’ of the day had not gone to such lengths to glorify him indirectly through TV serieses such as “The Untouchables” and “The FBI”?

        “What if….” fun and games are the necessary motivators to activists’ activism. I get your point that a chaos butterfly’s wing makes problematical the notion that we can predict an alternate past, but we can no more predict an alternate future, And yet we do and we must. What if we had a viable third party? What if we could take down the corrupt fundraisers who represent us in Congress? What if we could hold murderous cops accountable? What if black people could sit down at lunch counters?

        The very concept of accountability depends on a belief that if a criminal had not engaged in his crime, then the world would be a better place, and future criminals must be deterred through the agency of holding criminals accountable. The situation we are facing now is that George W. Bush was able to usurp extraordinary imperial (unitary executive) powers, that Barack Obama refused to hold Bush accountable or to roll back those powers (he even extended them), and we are now looking at a grave danger that a President Trump or President Clinton will not only abuse these powers but even extend them.

  4. kitchenmudge says:

    We’re pretty well stuck with the duty of playing “What if…” with the future. It’s how we make plans, and that is, after all, our job: to make the gods laugh.

    Playing “What if…” with the past is to make US laugh.

  5. Brian Good says:

    You want discussion of woulda shoulda coulda to be useless to the question of whether Nader spoiled the election (and your own links dispose of that proposition nicely so the point is moot).
    I changed the subject away from the spoiler issue simply because I recognize that Bush’s presidency (torture, illegal wars, the national security state) was fueled by 9/11 and I propose that 9/11 would not have happened under Gore because I am dying to see evidence that I have not yet seen that 9/11 would have happened under Gore. The only evidence I have is that we have an obvious bipartisan coverup of what did happen.

    I feel like I’m insulting my host while enjoying his hospitality when I say that you seem to be engaging in a very intelligent form of “know-nothingism”. We have the duty of playing “what if…” with the future when we’re making plans and trying to anticipate difficulties. We also have the duty of playing “what if…” in applying hindsight to analyze with present knowledge the possible effects and consequences of choices and mistakes and roads taken. Let’s at least try not to be condemned to repeat history.

    I’ve found this discussion very stimulating but I fear I’m going to alienate you if I proceed any further.

    • kitchenmudge says:

      Wish I could offer more on your theory about Gore avoiding 9/11, but I just don’t have it. What you laid out is plausible, from what I can tell, but I’m sure there’s much more that someone could bring up, such as whether the group planning 9/11 might have been operating in a manner too independent for any targeting of Al Qaeda to have any effect.

      There’s also a general suspicion that the FBI and CIA could be counted on to screw up just about anything.

      Such speculation could go on forever.

  6. Pingback: IT’S LONG PAST TIME TO… | kitchenmudge

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