The Death of Scandal in America
THE DEATH OF SCANDAL
HAS IT BEEN….EXAGGERATED?
Bush Lied and People Died…
McCain and Palin are Lying and
HAS AMERICA LOST ITS SENSE OF SHAME?
IF SO, DOES THAT MEAN
AMERICA IS …. LOST?
This DI “Current Issues” includes
“THE NEW NORMAL”
By Leonard Pitts
“PORNOGRAPHIC PROOF OF ‘THE SURGE IS WORKING’ LIE” . . .
“THE LIE OF “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
(THE LEGACY OF LIES IS PASSED…
FROM NEO-CON KING GEORGE INTO
PALIN’S AND McCAIN’S COWARDLY HANDS)
NEW NEO-CON “WMDs” . . .
(“Whoppers of Mass Deception”) =
The Lie of: “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
By Dusty Schoch
“THE LIES AREN’T JUST THOSE OF THE POLITICIANS…
I AGREE ABOUT THE WMD’S, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE
“M & M’s”…
… AND (Maybe) A RAY OF HOPE”
A trailing comment by writer,
By: DI Editors, Dusty Schoch, Leonard Carrier, with Leonard Pitts “in the middle” and Sally Doud at anchor.
October 20, 2008
Well, maybe I wish it were otherwise, but I personally still have a sense of shame; I still think I KNOW scandal when I see it, but the thing that scares hell out of me is the scandal most current in America , which is the scariest scandal in American history…the death of scandal in America.
I remember reading an article in the NY Times entitled “The Death of Scandal” and I remembered how shocked I was to read—and agree with it. The muckraking writer at the time was writing how appalled he was back in 1990-something at Congress’ voting itself a 20-percent pay raise during the worst recession since the “Great Depression.” He dubbed this the “death of scandal” because none of his fellow writers or talking TV heads were raising hell about the shameful event. And it was shameful. And they (Congressmen) got away with it. Why do I say that? (1) Because they weren’t impeached… any more than we’ll impeach our nominal “representatives” for (in addition to doing the same thing this past year) the recent bailout which was a case of grand larceny, treason, compounded by the pork barrel aggravation of the primary felony, and (more importantly) (2) because you (reader) very likely don’t recall the event (the pay raise).
Today two things made me feel that scandal in America is not only dead, but quite possibly (and according to Pulitzer Prize columnist Leonard Pitts—see below) buried for good. Today I received in the mail a piece of McCain propaganda claiming Obama was in conspiracy with Ayers’ bombing our nation’s capitol. I won’t debate that claim and thereby lend it any dignity. It is an outright lie. Lies told by politicians are under American law “privileged” – Obama is a public figure and therefore cannot sue McCain for publishing falsehoods unless he can prove actual malice. I think he could, but the lies McCain is pouring on Obama through malicious campaign managers are like rapid fire from a Bonsai machine-gun nest on Iwo Jima.
The second thing I encounter as a clear and certain nail in scandal’s coffin is Leonard Pitt’s article saying precisely that. His subject is not one lie in particular that our governing administration has launched, but rather a listing of the lies that inductively establishes that the Bush administration and his corporate commanders do little else but lie to us…to the paralyzing point that we are, as a people, now insensitive to the fact that LIES HAVE BECOME… “NORMAL” NOW IN AMERICA.
Before I resume my lament for the demise of truth and scandal in America, I give you the eulogy of Leonard Pitts, hopefully to be followed (after my amens) by the further lamentations of our own resident Historian and Philosopher, Leonard Carrier.
LEONARD PITTS’ LAMENT:
“THE NEW NORMAL”
Leonard Pitts Jr.: The new normal
We are numb to the values we’ve lost since 9/11
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Meanwhile, back at the War on Terror …
You remember the War on Terror, don’t you? It was in all the papers. Back before presidential politics sucked the air from the room and your 401(k) shrank till it was worth maybe dinner and a movie, it was considered quite the important news story. Abu Ghraib? Extraordinary renditions? Fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight ‘em over here? Surely you recall.
I only ask because of a news story that broke last week to a yawn of media disinterest. The Washington Post reported on two secret White House memos explicitly endorsing the use of waterboarding – simulated drowning — on so-called high-value terrorism suspects. This is, says The Post, the first time the still-classified memos have been disclosed. They were written in response to requests from then-CIA Director George Tenet, who worried his agents might be hung out to dry if the practice were discovered and the people or their representatives demanded someone’s head.
According to The Post, the White House issued written authorizations in 2003 and 2004. Yet in 2006, President Bush told the nation, “The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it.”
Which was, of course, a lie.
You’d think the latest proof of that lie — yet another smoking gun to stack with all the others — would merit attention. But a computer search on Thursday turned up only seven newspaper stories mentioning the memos. Searches of the CNN and FOX news Web sites also came up dry, though the story did appear on MSNBC’s site.
If you think my point is that the media missed an important story, it isn’t. No, the point is that normal is not where we thought it would be.
You remember how it was just after Sept. 11, 2001, right? Some of us vowed we would never enter a skyscraper again. Some of us didn’t want to leave our houses again. The minutiae of popular culture became staggeringly unimportant. Humorists like David Letterman and my colleague, Dave Barry, wondered if they could ever return to the business of laughter.
We were scared dry. And some of us said: Get used to it. This was the new normal.
But skyscrapers did not close from lack of use. We did not become a nation of agoraphobics. We did not lose our interest in singers and movie stars. Messrs. Letterman and Barry went back to work.
Fear, which had cut through us like a hot poker, became instead a low-grade fever, ambient noise, wallpaper, something you feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing.
Then you look up one day and realize how profoundly that fear has changed your world. People are imprisoned without charges or access to attorneys and it’s routine. People are surveilled, their reading habits studied, their telephone usage logged and it’s commonplace. People, including children, end up on a secret list of those who are not allowed to fly, nobody will tell you why, there is no appeal and it’s ordinary. We swallow lies like candy, nod sagely at babblespeak and it’s unexceptional.
Torture is inflicted with White House approval, the president lies about it and it’s just another Tuesday.
Once upon a time, Americans were fond of looking upon backward nations, upon places where law was whatever the king said it was, and noting with pride that we do things differently in our country. But that was a day long ago and a country long gone.
If we miss the one or mourn the other, you’d never know it to look at us. We live through what feels evermore like a Joe McCarthy fever dream. We feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing and do not protest what we have become.
Because this is normal now.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald).
First published on October 21, 2008 at 12:00 am
Leonard’s (Pitts) thesis is on the money, but his list of major lies is a minor league tallying of the neo-con Bush administration scoreboard of lies. I can’t wait for Len’s list to supplement mine, but when I’m composing the list that make America today the ordainment of Orwell’s prophesies in “1984” they go something like this:
[Note: I’m putting them in no particular order because there is no way to quantify them by any measure of ethical “evil”…they are all simply and purely lies, with differing degrees and venues of disastrous effect: I’ll list the lies therefore in random order and briefly note a damage assessment: ]
LIES AND EFFECTS:
LIE —-There are WMD’s and Al Qaeda connections in Iraq —
“Iraq was involved in the 9/11/01 attack on America.”
Bush in fact stated:
“I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. United States objectives also support a transition to democracy in Iraq, as contemplated by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 “ (Public Law 105-338).
EFFECT: 680,000 deaths and 7 years of trillion-dollar war and national bankruptcy; thousands of US military deaths.
We now have proof that Bush knew these were lies before Colin Powel made his speech to the UN. We now have abundant proof of that treason.
LIE: “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”(late May, 2003).
Bush—it turns out– was referring to two tractor-trailers obtained by U.S. forces in Iraq. The CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded these vehicles were mobile bio-weapons plants. Yet they had found not a trace of biological agents on either. No one has been charged for these lies on the basis of which war was waged and continues to be waged, and no one has been fired, much less impeached for this treason. Well, Colin Powel, sick of his complicity in the lies did in fact quit…which I say is the clearest ever case of “too little and too late” and that any self-respecting national warrior would have fallen on his own sword for the lies he spoke as America’s representative in the United Nations’ Security Council on the eve of war.
EFFECT: (SEE ABOVE)
(Bush said this; Cheney said this; Colin Powell said this; Condi Rice said this; John Bolton said this; Paul Wolfowitz said this…all numerous times. )
LIE: “Global Warming is a Doubtful Theory, not a Reality. James Hansen’s NASA report on Global Warming makes it clear that global warming is an unconfirmed theory based on questionable models.”
Hansen didn’t report that; Bush’s lawyer did; we now have the proof of that treason. This was an instance of our political leaders’ literally
re-writing reported science to suit themselves, and lying to us in the process.
EFFECT: As a result, America stayed out of Kyoto Accord conferences and the ecological demise of the world is rendered far more a likely (if unthinkable) event. Global warming continues because we are doing nothing officially about it. When Adolph Hitler established his openly-fascistic and totalitarian regime he publicly burned the books of the “leftist liberals” opposing him. Bush criminally revised the scientific books of the time (our time). We have the proof of that fascistic treachery and treason.
LIE: Bush: “I will pull U.S. Troops out of Iraq if asked by the new Iraq government .” “This is a sovereign nation; they are on their feet”.
When that sovereign country voted, it was overwhelmingly in favor of U.S. departure (reported by the French Associated Press June 19, 2005). The French Press wrote: Eighty two Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum have pressed for the withdrawal of the US-led occupation troops from their country. Speaker Hajem Al-Hassani, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP): “We have asked in several sessions for occupation troops to withdraw. Our request was ignored,” read the latter, made public on Sunday, June 19.
EFFECT: War continues. See above.
Here’s my question (Dusty’s): Why are we reading about these lies our president is telling us…in a French Newspaper??
As a result, the war continues 3+ more years, thousands more die, billions per week spent. Halliburton and Blackwater thrive; America dies–a little more each day–in a pool of lies.
LIE: “The U.S. government does not wire tap without a warrant” . (Bush campaign speech, 2004.) What he said was:
“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” See video at http://www.bradblog.com/?p=2182
At the very moment Bush was telling this lie, he had given the NSA power to tap our phones and get a court order (warrant) 3 days later.
EFFECT: You and I and America have lost our Constitutional guarantees of privacy and freedom from unlawful search and seizure. Since then, King George has installed a Standing Army on U.S. soil, in further violation of the U.S. Constitution and no one is making any noise about it. No one is crying.
This is now known and undisputed matter. Bush is still uncharged with treason. Bush has not been impeached.
LIE: “THE SURGE IS WORKING!!!”
EFFECT: We are conned into supporting the mythological war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq that has killed over a half million people over the past 7 years, increased terrorism globally and locally (in the two countries the U.S. preemptively invaded) and has created the trillion-dollar drain on the U.S. economy which has bankrupted America and brought us to the brink of a global economic collapse and depression.
This was a lie almost as big as “WMD’s and Al Qaeda Connections” and twice as skillful. There is magician’s legerdemain in this lie…classic “misdirection” and professional con-artistry. In claiming “success” in the final chapter of a war which has failed from its inception because it was launched on false pretenses on an innocent country, you can validly claim a relative “improvement” in an absolutely bad thing. But your argument is unsound and fatally flawed and logically absurd…but no one seems to get the joke…so I’ll tell it in a simpler (if slightly ribald) way:
PORNOGRAPHIC PROOF OF SURGE LIE . . .
It’s like–in the course of a forceful rape–the rapist begins to shout, “This is really going well…She is losing her will and ability to fight me off; You see what I told you when I started this thing! It was so dark, I thought it was my wife. Then, when I jumped on her, I still thought it was her because of all that shock and awe my wife always puts up when I surprise her like that…with the favor of my affections. Then, when things got going, I realized it was not my wife, but rather her sister, who came to babysit because my wife was at her mother’s. But BECAUSE as we were already into the thing, and BECAUSE as I realized that my wife’s sister was frigid and clearly needed to learn the fine art of healthy heterosexuality—which is the kind of sexuality I do so well—I realized that it was in everyone’s best interests that I continue doing what I had started until she learned what she needed to know. I will always maintain that this was not no rape, no how! She had no right to resist my teaching her what she needed to learn. And now I can prove I was right. When I had the courage just now to step up the pace of our carnal….coalition, she clearly lowered her resistance to me. Her fingernails are no longer digging into my eyes or my neck; the bleeding is almost stopped and she has totally quit that awful screaming. I have increased my pace and rest my case. Take this to the jury room with you now… because it’s my last and final Johnny Cochran word on the serious subject of sexual resurgence and surge: “ When there ain’t no squeal, the rape ain’t real. Yeaaaaaaa….Surge !!! ” [that last triple exclamation point indicates an ejaculatory declaration for those of you numbed and dumbed-down enough to believe the other lies I just told].
The preceding lies (political and pornographic) listed are to me simply the ones that come immediately to mind. The Bush administration has been telling lies like this on a daily basis for the past 8 years. What effect has this had on America?…Hearing the lies, having the facts of those lies laid out before them for nearly a decade, during which NO ONE HAS BEEN PUNISHED FOR THOSE LIES except a few isolated murderers and torturers tossed out of the U.S. Armed Forces by war monger brass as sacrificial pawns in the lying game. Everyone knows that the “go ahead” for torturing prisoners went right up to and into the White House.
THE LEGACY OF LIES IS PASSED…
FROM NEO-CON KING GEORGE INTO
PALIN’S AND McCAIN’S COWARDLY HANDS
Heading now into a new presidential administration, we find ourselves occupying a nation of not only DUMBED-DOWN, BUT NUMBED-DOWN people… a nation of shorn sheep either incapable of distinguishing truth from the lies daily told them, or … much worse, INDIFFERENT to the practice of being lied to by the new aspirant to the post of PREVARICATORS’ COMMANDER IN CHIEF… which would be the duplicitous duo, John McCain and Sarah Palin. They are consciously and conspicuously paying other You/tube truth assassins to promulgate known lies to the effect that (1) Obama is “Islamic”, and (2) Obama is a “terrorist” like his friend Ayers, and that (3) Obama is a radical anti-American “racist” like his old friend and preacher, Rev. Wright or “political bully” like his father’s fellow tribesman, Kenya’s Odinga.
NEW NEO-CON “WMD” . . .
(“whopper of mass deception”) =
THE LIE OF “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
The oldest form of lying and character assassination is the gambit of “guilt by association”. It’s illegal under American criminal law—which requires the state to prove that the accused actually “helped” his criminal friend with the criminal enterprise. McCain and Palin make no pretense of claiming Obama encouraged or took part in any of his friends’ alleged mistakes or transgressions. They ask you to condemn Obama because he befriended them or “associated” with them. Those claiming to be among the “born-again” Christian “right” are hypocritically not telling us to love our enemies and at the same time, they are telling us that befriending (loving) a criminal makes one a criminal. Christ not only associated with and forgave criminals, he did so in their company on Golgotha and with his last breath. Who among us has not had one of our friends or associates breach some law or accepted moral code? But what is illegal in criminal law is the rule in politics: It’s the oldest legal weapon in the coward’s arsenal, and our presidential contenders, McCain and Palin in their desperate and hopefully dying effort to catch up with Obama in the polls are spreading lies just for that reason—They are inveterate cowards. They are abandoning the battle of issues and policies and launching a battle of hatred.They are hatefully spreading lies suggesting Obama is guilty because he has associated with allegedly guilty people—not because he aided or participated in any guilty conduct. That is not only a lie, and now only a cowardly lie, it is—quite clearly—anti-American. The question that remains, however is much more daunting – Has America changed its conceptions of “right and wrong” or simply discarded them? Have “lies” told in America about Americans to Americans become the new “norm” ? Have we decided as a people that “truth” is just another disposable pawn in the “game” of politics? Have we arrived at Orwell’s point of democracy’s demise – 1984, the year of Big Brother’s dictatorship constructed on the platform of the Big Lie?
Leonard Pitts thinks America is incurably conned; that we’ve been lied to so much that “lies” have become perceived by our masses as “normal” instead of “scandal”.
My jury on this question is still out. I’m still holding out hope (which no longer rises to the dignity of “belief”) that America will wake up, smell the coffee, remember the tea, and ultimately recall what it was like short decades ago when two brave reporters probed and dug in the loam of truth in the Beltway deeply enough to prove that a U.S. President had committed crime and lied to us about it…and when as a result, there were actual consequences of that scandal…consequences which involved accountability and a changing of our nation’s leadership.
Nixon’s crimes of petty burglary and cover-up do not compare in degree of criminality to the high crimes and misdemeanors (major international war crimes, crimes against environmental nature, and domestic crimes, compounded by lies to cover up those crimes) committed by our incumbent President and his administration…so many crimes that Americans seem to be now sufficiently numbed and dumbed down to accept more lies as a “normal” matter of American political course.
Has America become the proverbial “frog in the pot” of tepid water, which when warmed at the deceptively slow rate of one degree per minute, becomes lethally boiling before the frog realizes he has sat on his haunches so long he has lost the ability to leap for his…life?
Obama is offering us our only chance for change—a CONCEIVABLY LAST CHANCE–to save ourselves from the waters about to boil us into oblivion as a leader among free nations. Our nation under the leadership of the Republican Neo-Cons has been lied to to the point it is questionable whether “we-the-people” consider lies anything more than “normal politics”. If McCain and Palin win, there will be categorical and catastrophic proof that we have been dumbed and numbed down to that languishing level.
God help us if Leonard Pitts is right.
10 21 08
War is still our only enemy, but lies are its arsenal and ignorance its ally.
THE LIES AREN’T JUST THOSE OF THE POLITICIANS…
I AGREE ABOUT THE WMD’S, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE
… AND (Maybe) A RAY OF HOPE
Indeed, why do foreign news agencies have to tell us what’s going on in our own country? Just recently the British announced that their economy is in recession; whereas, we keep hearing that “maybe” our own country might be heading there. What? With foreclosures mounting, the auto industry languishing, and unemployment at more than 6%, is our government trying to tell us that we’re not in recession when we’ve been in one for months? You would think that U.S. news agencies would be as honest as the ones in the U.K., but that’s not what we get from our mainstream media. They eagerly publish the lies spewing from our present government, but refuse to refute these lies except maybe on the back pages of subsequent issues of the newspapers.
Is Leonard Pitts correct in saying that lying has become the norm, and that scandal has died in this country? I prefer to think it’s not so. I think that the majority of people in this country hate what’s been going on for the past eight years and can’t wait to replace the corrupt, lying, utterly contemptible Bush administration with an honest one that ministers to the needs of the American people and not to the greed of the wealthiest among us. Of course, 24% of our citizens still support the policies of George W. Bush; but that was about the percentage of those who supported the Tories during our American Revolution. There will always be those who, for one reason or another, just don’t “get it”—the holocaust deniers, the global warming deniers, the Sarah Palin lovers, the Muslim haters, the racists and the fear-mongers who show us daily just what we need to overcome.
In speaking about the “death of scandal,” I was reminded of a bit in the film, “The Duchess,” which portrayed the life of the Duchess of Devonshire in the late 18th century. The Duke of Devonshire was one of the most powerful men in England at the time, a philandering plutocrat who could make or break the careers of aspiring politicians in the Whig Party. Because the Duchess—immensely popular with the poets, politicians, and playwrights—could not openly criticize the Duke for his adulterous ways, she conspired with the playwright, Richard Sheridan, to have his play, “A School for Scandal,” performed before the Duke and others. Everyone knew that the play was about the scandalous behavior of the Duke, and that this was the way the Duchess chose to broadcast her complaints to everyone. What I am suggesting is that our mainstream press has become an exercise in “a school for scandal.” With the main newspaper and broadcasting outlets being controlled by the wealthiest among us—just as the Duke of Devonshire “controlled” what was said about him—what we have at our disposal are a myriad of “Duchesses” who are forced to get out the facts by other means. This, of course, is what Leonard Pitts does in his columns; and it is what Dusty Schoch and I do on this site, and it is what Daily Kos, Mother Jones, and Arianna Huffington do on the internet. The internet can’t be controlled, just as the playwrights and poets can’t be controlled. That’s why Plato, the consummate elitist, wanted the poets banned from his Utopian Republic.
I say, never ban the poets, never fail to point out that the Emperor wears no clothes. The American public might not look as if it is paying attention, but I am confident that it is. I see November 5 dawning as a new chapter in our Republic, one in which the old rubbish is swept out, and new policies adopted that will once again show that the United States, after waking from a long nightmare, is ready to fulfill our fondest dreams.
10 22 08
Worlds of gratitude to Len for countering my nightmarish worries about another 1984 regime in America on such a promising and positive note!
EARLY COMMENTS FROM DI CORRESPONDENTS
Very well argued. I can’t offer any disagreement.
My only question is how one gets this message out to all those Americans who just don’t care. Francine Prose, in a recent article in Harpers (or maybe New Yorker) took on the huge public outcry when several books purported to be memoir turned out to be fiction. A reading public aghast at the lies! But F. Prose wonders why those lies make more impact than the giant lies of the administration, lies with horrible consequences. She concludes that the public feels helpless before the powers-that-be, thus turns its frustration and anger at lies on the insignificant fake memoirists. A scapegoating, I guess.
All well and good to try and educate this tuned-out public to the real LIES, but I think a number of people (all frustrating when I run into them) don’t want to know the truth. Would rather believe than reason out; believe that huge government lies are only truths too complicated for them to understand and that big-kind-daddy-in-charge will make it all right by the end of the day. That they are free to pursue their daily lives without needing to bother their pretty little heads about “all that “political stuff.” And that’s why I’m glad we’ve had this Wall Street crash, because it starts to disturb these tuned-out Americans as it impinges on their daily lives.
I admit that for a long time I’ve had little hope for the human race, for Americans in particular, but I’ve begun to hope (just a little bit) again with all the young people getting involved in this electoral race. I hope the numbers of involved youth have not been exaggerated by the media, but I guess only the outcome of the election will tell the truth.
Sally Doud, Richmond Va. (Writer; English Instructor, V.C.U.)
10 23 08 [Emphasis added by DI to enhance well-told truth]
(Editorial Note: For any of you DI and B.E.A. correspondents who receive our DI Current Issue Previews, please feel free to send in your reactions immediately so they can be posted on line with the current issues just as the preceding comments of Sally Doud.)