Tuesday, May 01, 2007


There are a lot of ways to make an untrue statement, some of them are understandable and some are reprehensible. It is easy enough to misspeak yourself, particularly under the pressure of public speaking, it is commonly a case of knowing what you mean to say and confusing the words, generally quickly corrected. There are the cases of moving words around or dropping them in quotes, pretty harmless if the sense is kept, mostly embarrassing. These are accidents that can happen to anyone and if you speak or write for the public often enough it becomes more likely.

After accidents you start to run into the deliberate stuff, exaggeration and minimization are common enough and pretty generally winked at, which probably isn't good for us. One of the more insidious forms is telling a sort of truth that isn't at all, statistics are good for this, a certain behavior increases your risk of cancer 500% - horrid stuff - until you find out that your ordinary chances of contracting that variety of cancer are 0.0001%, in fact a meaningless increase as a worry factor. The Brady gun control outfit included adult males in their twenties in child gun fatalities - knowingly - along with suicides and justified shootings, why bother? Certain "news" media run an actual story and then have comments from experts - generally think tank representatives - and don't bother to note the political agenda of the organizations. This stuff is bad for us, we think we're getting information and we're getting something else, good decisions are not based on poor data.

The highlight of this particular exercise is lying, this one is an egregious offense against the people, spin is a "polite" or "soft" description. It is an important issue, at one time it was important enough to shed blood over, being called a liar was a deadly insult. I don't know that dueling is a good method of correction, but there should be very serious consequences. Most Americans are used to not getting things completely straight from politicians and take much of what is said with a grain of salt, but there is a difference between careful language and outright lying. BushCo has taken this practice to lengths I've never seen and I've paid close attention to politics for forty years.

When the citizenry does not know what its government is doing because the government is lying to them some very bad things happen. The government is allowed to do things it should not or not do things it should, that is pretty obvious, but what wrecks the system is having the public lose confidence that the government is truthful and therefore reliable. It is not just about paying taxes or writing to your representative, it gets much more basic, the public quits. This is an outright attack on our form of government - government of the people and by the people - it stops the process in its tracks. People quit voting, people quit paying attention to anything they're told (they're all liars, all the same), every piece of our institutions come into question. It gets as basic as "consumer confidence" - why believe things are working, the people telling you are liars. While I have vehement disagreements with the current administration's politics, their recourse to lies drives me to distraction, it is in simplest terms - absolute treason. It is a deliberate institutionalized attempt to destroy our form of government.

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