You’d think the rulers of the Western World – the greatest Empire the world has ever seen – would be smart enough to realise when they’ve gone too far. Don’t they watch the World Series of Poker on the Fox channels? Professional card-players know that they must maintain a reputation for honesty and caution, before they can expect to get away with bluffs and other bullshit. Nobody wants to get called on a busted flush.
It’s card-games like bridge and whist that have given us the expression “overplaying one’s hand” to describe the situation where somebody pushes harder than he should prudently do.
The little boy who cried “Wolf!” is a classic example from children’s literature; Butch Cassidy and Sundance in Bolivia, from the movies; the German Army’s invasion of Russia in the winter of ’42, from real life. The rulers of the USA in the years following JFK’s assassination… Hmm. Up till then, we outsiders bought into the bullshit; afterwards, not so much. Today, too many of us are skeptical of the official versions of everything.
Gone are the days when we could be jeered into silence and acquiescence by being labelled “conspiracy theorists”. That just doesn’t work any more. Some of us can still be fooled by fake conspiracies invented by government agencies, but even those are failing these days.
Individual journalists can be suborned by bribes or threats, as can entire TV, radio and newspaper networks. The BBC and PBS, The Economist and the New York Times, Associated Press and Bloomberg – all are suspect. Independent researchers can be – and sometimes are – slandered as traitors (Snowden, Manning, Assange), and sometimes suicided. Their fates merely endorse their credibility, and destroy their accusers’.
The mainstream media organs (“MSM”) have lost their credibility. I can’t think of a single exception, off-hand. Either they don’t know that or (more likely) they don’t know how to change their reporting methods. They follow the Wikipedia model of simply not recognizing the new reality. The alternative media and the independent bloggers are dismissed as not substantial enough to deserve respect. As a result, Wikipedia today has minimal credibility on all matters political; it too has been suborned by government agencies.
There is a new word in the dictionaries: hasbara. It’s a Hebrew word that connotes what in essence is a fifth-column of individual propagandists engaged in rubbishing all opinions and arguments that oppose the official versions of events and situations. Originally the fifth-column was invented by the Israeli government to defend its anti-Palestinian activities; but its scope now extends to all doubt and criticism of official Western propaganda.
Its weapons range from blatant lies and childish personal insults to repeated obscenities that are so offensive as to make it unlikely that the piece under attack will be forwarded to others. It works well enough. I have seen several instances of excessively rough language used as an excuse to close down online discussions that threatened some official version of events.
Credibility is a tender flower. We tell our children: if you tell lies, people won’t know when you’re telling the truth and when not. Little kids understand the logic of that. Yet our rulers either don’t understand or don’t care that there are posses of vigilantes out there who will call them out on lies and unfair innuendoes.
Most of us remember the lies that began the savage war against the Arabs of the Middle East. The NATO nations had actual indisputable proof that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons already aimed at European cities and ready to fire on 45 minutes’ notice. “You want a smoking gun?” The US Secretary of State sneered. “Unless we invade immediately, the smoking gun will appear in the shape of a mushroom cloud!”
Yes, well… Today, we know it was a lie, and that the invasion had been planned for years. The doubters and vigilantes uncovered the lies; the liars kept their heads down and planned more lies.
Encouraged by their success in exposing that particular lie, the doubters and vigilantes started poking around to see what other lies our rulers might have gotten away with. The Kennedy assassination, of course, Pearl Harbor, the Lusitania… Afghanistan’s opium fields, Israel’s nuclear arsenal, NATO’s military alliance with ISIS… Even the Nazi Holocaust is suspect, at least in some of the specific numbers and other details claimed by authorities now known to be liars.
How do we decide who to believe, any more? As George Bush famously said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice – er, um, oh shit, I forget how that’s supposed to end. Help me out, here, Dick.”