Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dear Bush Republican: Should we be held responsible for our first principles?

There was never a good Knife made of bad Steel.--Poor Richard

It has been said that beginning from different first premises in political discussions in the US today should not call for accusations of intellectual dishonesty. I wonder. What are the alternatives? Admitting an honest mistake? Self-deception?

At this point in our nation's history, with the competing positions being seeing the Bush administration as a government of war criminal imperialists conspiring with war profiteers and enabled by an embedded corporate media vs. seeing them as lights of freedom and democracy on earth unjustly maligned by a bitterly partisan and demented liberal media, first premises ARE the ISSUE. First premises are EVERYTHING.

It is true that differences here don't necessarily indicate intellectual dishonesty (though that can't simply be ruled out), but they do indicate entirely alternate universes.

When facts are routinely and effectively wished away by major players, where do we turn for genuine political discourse, for discussion of actual policy alternatives? Can we even speak across the divide?

At this point, it's defense of the enlightenment vs. defense of the fundamentalist founder's constitution, defense of the rule of law and civil liberty vs. the freedom of action to secure the nation, transparency in government vs. the classification state as a weapon. These are not principles that can or should be compromised on either side. These issues are much more than a question of civility, they begin to raise the question of whether the nation will survive. This is true FOR BOTH SIDES though their world views are mutually exclusive.

With the stakes being what they are, anger is not only justified, but nearly demanded. How either side can find enough common ground to even communicate successfully is a deep mystery to me. Even the generally acknowledged neutrality of C-SPAN founders on the rock of bias and grinds to a hopeless, mutually exclusive halt during the call-in show.

I read Jay Rosen's weblog, PressThink, for reasons to hope that this profound chasm can be bridged. His insights always refine my understanding of how the media works, but my concern that not only the media, but what little remains of the democratic process, has largely ceased to effectively function remains profound.

For those Republicans who live on the sunny side of the street, good luck when the Republican class warfare agenda (like the new bankruptcy bill) actually becomes law and you achieve Rove's stated goal of returning the US to the nineteenth century. Good luck at the funeral of your relatives who die of cancer from the increased pollution Bush's EPA allowed, at the funeral of your mother who gets Alzheimer's because the concerns of the beef industry not to lower profits by actually controlling Mad Cow Disease matter more to Bush's EPA than your relative's health. Good luck when your relative suffers chronic muscular and nerve pain because Bush's FDA continues to approve drugs hard science says MUST be off the market immediately. Good luck when you try to file a class action suit to challenge the cold corporate calculus that allows the pharmaceutical industry to endanger your children in a premeditated way and you find out that tort reform means this calculus will always pay, even at the expense of your own loved ones.

If you sincerely believe George W. Bush is not engaged in class warfare or increasing legally permissable levels of pollution that endanger your loved ones, or any of the other actions I refer to above, maybe you aren't intellectually dishonest. But it is extremely hard to imagine what world you are living in that would allow you to continue to believe these things aren't happening. Let alone to find fault with the media rather than the party in charge of all three branches of government.

Near the end of the Pacific War, the Japanese began to report imaginary victories, began to make up fantasy numbers of ships and planes that were lost to keep up the will of the Japanese people to fight. They kept reporting the "good news" about all the Asians in the Co-Prosperity Sphere that loved them and who would tell the Japanese how grateful they were for being liberated from Euro-American colonialism, leaving out the news that 75% of the inhabitants of the sphere absolutely detested them as war criminals and murderers.

I see a lot of this narcissism of the Tojo mentality in the contemporary US right-wing religion of media bias. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.