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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Republican Putsch and the Swiftboating of Nancy Pelosi

Despite the record established by members of both political parties, as detailed by, that the CIA has covered up, misled, and misinformed members of Congress regarding the use of torture on detainees, the Republicans are seizing upon the lack of a documented record to accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of lying and demanding her resignation.

Pelosi has advocated the establishment of Congressional investigations into the torture matter, and current CIA Director Leon Panetta formally stated that the truth in the conflicting statements will have to be determined by Congress.

But the fact-checkng and analysis will probably not be done. It could cause impediments and obstacles to the hate incitement and scurrilous accusations that now appear to form the total contribution of the Republican Party to the national dialogue. We live in an age that is overloading communication mediums with contrived and demented verbal confrontations. Cable television has displaced competent news reports with bickering and shouting sessions in which there are no attempts by anyone to establish facts or apply the rules of expository integrity.

The reactions to Nancy Pelosi range from the inane demands for resignation by Newt Gingrich to the sulky petulance of John Boehner and Dick Cheney. Pelosi's comments are a response to the abandonment of decency and due process and the adoption of torture as a national policy. The attacks against Pelosi are attempts by people incompetent in the arts of addressing issues to divert attention away from the central issue.

The encouraging sign in all this is that the press and the Internet sites run by actual brain power are fact-checking and analyzing the materials being presented to the public. A good example is that after Dick Cheney's speech denouncing Barack Obama and his policies, McClatchy newspapers fact-checked the content of his speech and found numerous errors of fact.

Add to that the refutation of Cheney's argument by the former lead interrogator in Iraq. Cheney said that prison abuse and torture played no role in the escalation of violence against America. The interrogator said that when news of the torture and prison mistreatment got out, that is precisely when militants flocked to Iraq to fight against America. And it is because of that kind of incitement that President Obama has decided not release more prison abuse photographs.

Increasingly, competent, responsible reporters are challenging the devious and incompetent, whether news organizations or citizen journalists. As said many times before, people have the right to exercise their First Amendment in expressing what is on their minds. But other people have the equal right to expose falsehoods. dishonesty, malice, and outright idiocy.

The South Dakota idiosphere echoes the worst of what finds its way into the national media and what seems to have become the Republican strategy of personal attack and destruction. Just as the insurgents in Iraq have found the Improvised Explosive Device to be the ultimate expression of their value of disfigurement and death, the Republican "base" has adopted the propagandic equivalent in the profusion of falsehood and defamation it explodes into the atmosphere. The American dialogue has degraded to a point that its objective is disfigurement-defamation and character assassination-death. In order to obtain information is that possesses the potential for intelligent thought and analysis, a citizen has to strenuously search out sources of information not given over to idiotic sound and fury. That means that people have to be alert and make others aware of where the malignant brain cells dwell. Just as the people of Mexico City wore masks a few weeks ago to ward off the swine flu virus, literate people of good will and purpose have to constantly filter out the mental contaminants that so pollute the communication atmosphere.

The cult of personal disfigurement and character assassination can be seen in constant operation in the idiosphere. South Dakota War College has become a devotee of those rituals of personal destruction. A recent example concerns Tom Daschle. The techniques of malicious misrepresention are evident in a posting which purports to call attention to a story on Daschle and contort it in such a way as to give it a defamatory appearance. The post links to a story from the Argus Leader which was reprinted from USA Today. The story is about Daschle's continued power and influence in the planning and shaping of a new health care policy. It is 15 paragraphs long and is largely a citation of Daschle's continued work and influence in reforming healthcare. One of the paragraphs cites an executive from a public watchdog agency who thinks that Daschle may still be playing the role of senator even though he does not hold that office. However, the rest of the story is about the continued respect and influence he commands.

War College presents that one paragraph in such a way as to suggest that it represents the whole of the story. By any standard, journalistic or academic, this is a blatant misrepresentation of the story in an obvioius attempt to malign Daschle.

Daschle made a serious mistake when he failed to include the services of a car and driver as income on his tax forms. He corrected the error, paid the back taxes, and withdrew from the nomination to Secretary of Human Services. Daschle is far removed at this time from any political connections with South Dakota. The continued respect and prominence he garners is a measure of the work he has done, still does, and the kind of person he is beyond the problem he had with tax payments. The question, then, is why does SD War College go to such extremes to distort a factual story about Daschle's continuing role into a defamation? For what motive do opponents of Daschle try to create the impression that he is engaged in continuous nefarious activities that violate some rule or law?

The answer is in the Republican mentality that prevails right now. In that segment of the Republican Party, like children who will destroy the world if they can't have their way, personal destruction is the sum total of their politics.

The response to pointing out that the display of the story on Daschle is a totally dishonest attempt at misrepresentation and deception will be that a link to the original story was provided. However, War College went after the Prince of Dementia, Steve Sibson, when he did precisely the kind of thing War College is trying to do to Daschle. Sibson wrote a headline suggesting that a member of the Public Utilities Commission was engaging in graft and claimed that no asperion was cast because he put a question mark after the headline. The supplying of a link to a story display that totally misrepresents the story is the same as that question mark. It does not mitigate the malicious intent behind the display.

Whether made against Nancy Pelosi by national figures or against Tom Daschle by residents of the barren backwaters, such words of falseness and hatred are the stuff out of which gas ovens are built.

And the public needs to be reminded of their intent.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Good points all.

Maybe the real feminists have a better idea on this, but I suspect there is more than a bit of male chauvinism at work in the attacks on Nancy Pelosi.

She also becomes a shorthand way to attack all Democrats. After working for months to "swiftboat" Pelosi, all the GOP hacks have to say about any Democrat is something that relates he or she as a friend or supporter of Pelosi.

It is a kind of political or character assassination on the cheap or wholesale basis.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States