S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Whom to trust to tell the truth?

The first benchmark -- For many of us the enduring myth that George Washington could not tell a lie stands in stark contrast with the challenge of getting at the truth today.
Getting to the truth in the world of politics is crucial to the well-being of the United States. And we do not need to be reminded that there is not a whole lot of time to do it. In just one month Iowans will caucus and make their nominations for our next president (ONP). The returning members of the U.S. House and Senate will have about three weeks before the holiday recess and the end of the year to make decisions. The activists and lawmakers could use our help. To whom can we turn for the truth? How can we detect "spin"? Whether on line or in the mainstream media, as we advocate for change with the decision makers, who can we trust for the facts we need to buttress our arguments? Here are a few of my choices:
Glenn Greenwald at reminded us that there is a marked difference between good reporting and shoddy reporting in the mainstream media. To quote:
This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims -- particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear -- to any critical scrutiny.

. . . It isn't actually that complicated. When a government official or candidate makes a factually false statement, the role of the reporter is not merely to pass it on, nor is it simply to note that "some" dispute the false statement. The role of the reporter is to state the actual facts, which means stating clearly when someone lies or otherwise makes a false statement.

It's staggering that this most elementary principle of journalism is not merely violated by so many of our establishment journalists, but is explicitly rejected by them. That's the principal reason why our political discourse is so infected with outright falsehoods. The media has largely abdicated their primary responsibility of stating basic facts.
Bob Scheiffer at Face the Nation reminded us to maintain perspective when it comes to the actual situation in Iraq. Many people will die there before the end of the year, and billions of dollars will be spent with not much to show for it. To paraphrase my old favorite newsman, "Now is not the time to say 'Mission accomplished' when the Iraqis have not made any political progress."
Martin Kady II and Jim VandeHei according to, headlined that voters are shifting focus from Iraq. And, to his credit, Rep. John Murtha went to Iraq to see for himself what the truth was about the situation there. One of the House's most vociferous war critics, Murtha, reminded us that the level of violence is diminishing in the Iraq war. To quote,
The change in mood perceived by Democratic lawmakers comes as one of Congress’ most vocal war critics, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), returned from a trip to Iraq and told reporters Thursday that “the surge is working” to improve security, even though the central government in Baghdad remains “dysfunctional.” On Friday, Murtha, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, clarified his remarks. The surge, he said, “has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government,’’ which he added has “failed to capitalize on the political and diplomatic steps that the surge was designed to provide.”

“The fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily, and that we must begin an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable,” Murtha said.
Steve Benin at the Carpetbagger Report reminded us that our current president still wants to operate outside the laws passed by Congress, this time again using a signing statement with a recent military appropriations bill. To quote:
Bush thought enough of the bill to sign it into law, but not quite enough of it to obey the bill’s provisions. He’s picky that way.
Steve Clemons at The Washington Note reminded us of a new film documentary called "Taxi to the Dark Side," that focuses on U.S. involvement with very questionable practices. It will be available in theaters in January. To quote:
The film already has a Gotham Award Nomination as best documentary and won the Best Documentary Prize at the Chicago Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

I've seen it -- and it's a devastating chronicle of the Bush administration's Darkness at Noon-style kidnapping, detainment, and torture practices that have been less part of a so-called 'war on terror' than a 'war on America's own democratic principles.'

Film critic Roger Ebert agrees and said, "Highly recommended. A devastating documentary laying out in precise detail the Bush administration's use of illegal detainment, torture and death in prison camps that exist outside the U.S. Constitution."
Our current president (OCP) has set truth on its head almost since first taking office. Who does not want success in Iraq?! The bar has had to be lowered for what that means, however, because the Iraqis are not sure what success means to them. Perhaps they were infected with the same anti-truth virus as their neocon liberators. ONP, I remind myself as I try to decide whom to support, should have the requisite leadership qualities embodied by George Washington, those of telling the truth and serving the public.
View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.
My links:
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post for today is at Making Good Mondays.
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