April 4, 2009

In Truth We Trust

Tuesday a week ago, on FOX Business, Anchor Liz Claman interviewed one of my current favorite forked-tongue and sneak-Christ-in-the-back-door politicians, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann. Claman spent time asking questions about the stimulus bill. Bachmann, like many before her, railed against all the earmarks.

“I took a pledge in my own district. I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I have been in Congress because the system is so corrupt. It’s possible to make that pledge.” Says Bachmann, and indeed you can find Bachmann’s name among those “brave members who have personally decided to stop receiving pork projects” as one of the members of the Club for Growth, along with club founder Jeff Flake, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain.

You may watch the FOX interview here:







Apparently Bachmann had her fingers crossed, because in FY08 she requested a total of seven earmarks totaling $3,767,600. In other words, Bachmann lied, and in a repeat performance of this pledge the next year, she opted out and did not sign.

Bachmann must think her constituents don't read the news... and perhaps she is correct.

Tug-of-War

The political and cultural wars have taken a toll on our society, with truth and honesty being the greatest casualty. The fringes of both wings resort to any tactic in an effort to win. There is some unreasonable fear for the future of our country if one side manages to dominate. Neither side trusts the other to be truthful and reasonable, and tempers flare for no apparent reason.

Our nation is made up from individuals with varying degrees of political polarization. The myth of a political or curtural war in which one side must dominate and the other be dominated is only an excuse for shrill political pundits to rally the faithful on some concocted battle ground.

Society will not display any noticible changes over short periods of time. Our culture is far too rigid for that. Instead we change slowly, constantly over the course of time. No side will ever win an imaginary war created in the minds of political reactionaries by fighting short-term battles.

Our current political culture seems to place no value on truth. This is made apparent by such inconsistency as we find with Michele Bachman. I pick on her because I dislike her sneaky attempts to insert religion into government, but I could just as easily pick on most any other politician, regardless of party affiliation. Take for instance Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul. One would think if any politician would shun earmarks Mr. Paul would be the one. But obviously not.






So the characteristic that we should find most valuable in an elected member of Congress is absent from even the most conservative and overtly Christian members of that Most August Body. Instead of ethics we find lies, mental gymnastics and revisionist history. I often pick on the Republicans, but this is true of both sides of the isle, and of the White House.

Perhaps truth is not lost

I keep thinking the American people will figure this out, and perhaps now is the most promising time in history for that awakening. Every day there is some new technological means to hear the news, and to vet it for truth. In this respect my friend TOTTYTR is very correct.

We are no longer yoked to a single print newspaper and two or three network news shows. If we want we can listen to all sides of an issue from dozens of angles, and even dig in to the statistical facts by mining the wealth of the Internet. When a politician says one thing and does another, we can learn about it and not be dependent on limited and possibly biased news sources.

If we want, we can scroll back in history and find that the tech bubble burst within a couple months after the Shrub took office, and that the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh rushed to his defense; blaming the stock market crash on Bill Clinton. And now that these two wingnut pundits are blaming the current recession on Barack Obama, we can call it the bullshit that it is.

Teach your children well


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2 Comments:

jeg43 said...

Perhaps the only argument in favor of newspapers that makes any sense to me (and it wasn't me doing the arguing) is that there isn't much in place that will support in-depth, factual reporting that we once saw in the newspapers. Those few magazines that still publish that sort of work have limited distribution compared to newspapers and tends to be very specialized.
Visual media, broadcast, satellite, or cable is geared toward market share (read entertainment) rather than in-depth, truthful reporting - with few exceptions, and I doubt are willing to pay for it. I'm afraid that all of the old-school investigative reporters, young and old, who bust(ed) butt searching out the facts, often at the expense of their very lives are in danger of fading away along with the newspapers.
I hope I'm wrong, as did the person who proposed the premise in the first place.

Mule Breath, said...

Unlike TOTTYTR, I find disagreement in the thought that publishing biases are the reason newspapers are going out of business. Print media have always held some bias, regardless of "the way it is supposed to be,", but the rare Woodwards and Bernsteins were the pearls that made journalism what it was supposed to be. Bias is perspective based.

The demise of the print newspaper is of personal insult to me. Over a 25 year period (much younger life) I held employment with a variety of rags... two of which, the Dallas Times Herald and the Rocky Mountain News, are now shuttered. Still surviving but copiously hemorrhaging are the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Change is inevitable, but I find this change to affect me personally.

One of the better missives on the reasons for the change was recently posted by Clay Shirky on his self-titled blog. Shirky offers an interesting analogy of the changes we are seeing today (those dooming the print publishing industry) and the era when Guttenberg first offered his marvelous invention to mankind. According to Shirky, both are times of revolution.

And he makes some undeniably good points...

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

I don't know how to embed a link in a blog comment, so if someone could tell me I would be grateful, but the full blog post may be found here:

http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/