Thursday, April 29, 2010

Τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια

Everybody from Aeschylus to Samuel Johnson and Hiram Johnson seems to have said, "The first casualty of war is truth," but that doesn't make the observation any less apt. Indeed, what is war but a society's agreement to suspend mormal notions of morality towards violent achivement of a particular end? (This is not necessarily a bad thing if the end is, for instance, genuine self-preservation.) Of course this means, along with tossing normal prohibitions against homicide, vandalism etc, putting aside concerns with niceties like truth and honor. Perhaps the most strangely self-disclosing instance of this in history was Don Rumsfeld's Institute of Strategic Influence, which he announced back in 2o02. Somebody clumsily admitted that the Institute would be deceiving the public in service of the War on Abstraction, and Don Rumsfeld held a press conference whereat he retired the outfit's name, but reserved the right to lie to America whenever he saw fit:

And then there was the office of strategic influence. You may recall that. And "oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall." I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.

For some reason people kept affecting surprise when, even after this admission, it tuned out that Don and his buddies had lied at virtually every opportunity. Those people wouldn't tell you the correct time.

Well, their wars are still going on, with no sign of abatemenent in the near term, and the Right Wingers are trying to gin up a new war here at home against Obama and his Socialist Black Healthcare Death-Panel Helicopters, so perhaps we shouldn't surprised that truth is not being well served. All these years of war (starting perhaps with Hitler and proceedding right on through the Cold War) have inured us to constant lying it seems, but this last decade or so seems to have completely addicted the Right Wing to lying. The Republicans no longer seem to have the slightest concern with the truth of their claims, just their effectiveness as sales pitch. Of course, our journalists are now so cowardly, co-opted and corrupt that they don't report the plain truth (say, for instance, 'Mitch McConnel blatantly lied today when he said Wall Street regulation would ensure bailouts.), so why wouldn't Republicans, in full Rush Limbaugh mode, just run their mouths saying whatever, until something stuck -- never mind its falsity. There's no penalty for lying if you're a Republican. Perjury is a rite of passage for them.

Every day brings a new Reich Wing outrage against simple reality; it's too much to even note them all. Deception and self-deception is standard operating procedure now, our pundits don't even notice anymore. Only Stewart and Colbert take stances which allow them to encompass the delusional truth of political discourse.


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