Sunday, December 21, 2008

Accurate Information is Not a Side to an Issue/ W & the Housing Crisis/Lying Works In Politics

The vast majority of voters that I know must have slept through 9th grade civics class.  I received an email the other day from an acquaintance who blamed the Democrats for the last two years of economic woe because they controlled both houses of Congress during the past two years. 

Personally, I place little faith in the wisdom and judgment of politicians, regardless of party affiliation.  After pointing out some factual difficulties with that statement, I was thanked for giving him the "other side". What was the other side? The contention is wrong on so many levels that I thought that I would attack it just at its most basic clearly erroneous, factual level. The Democrats only controlled the Senate with a bare majority, with the closet Republican Joe Lieberman caucusing with them to give them a majority. I then mentioned two facts that were the "other side".  The Democrats have not had 60 votes needed for cloture in the Senate. Cloture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  

I must have been talking in Latin. What the heck is cloture-doesn't the majority rule he said with glib satisfaction making an unassailable point of order.  The Senate Cloture rule is a fact, not a side or an opinion.  It is just a fact that nothing controversial can pass the Senate without the ability to stop a filibuster with a bare minimum of 60 votes. And surely he had to know that the Democrats did not not have sufficient votes in either the House or the Senate to override the President's veto. Oh, is that a side of an issue or a fact?  Believe it or not, many do not have a clue that it takes a 2/3rds vote of both the House and the Senate to override a Presidential veto. Constitutional Topic: How a Bill Becomes a Law - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net

When one realizes that W is a Republican President which most apparently know and has veto power, then any bill which would become law would have to be approved by him and also survive a majority vote in the house and a cloture vote in the Senate with a least 9 Republican Senators, all Democrats, and independents voting for the Cloture motion.  

The two-thirds vote necessary to override a veto is just a fact. This fact alone, even without considering the hurdle presented by the Senate rules, simply means that the economic policy followed over the past two years was the one advocated by the Republican party and W, its titular leader.  I always believed that one route to happiness was to be just plain ignorant about virtually everything and listen to Rush Limbaugh daily.

I have heard some people say that they do not read the New York Times ever because they are conservative. I heard that comment just the other day.   I have lived in the South all of my life.  These people are not, and never will be conservatives.  

The term conservative just sounds more soothing and socially acceptable than a more correct label which I will keep to myself.  

Any information that does not ft squarely in a worldview formed by them with no thought and almost no information is considered biased or liberal, which means that it can be avoided without ever having to become acquainted with its existence.  Making decisions based on inaccurate information is usually not the best way to proceed for either a liberal or a conservative.  Thus, for those who wish to be called conservative, it is not necessary to read any newspaper since virtually all news organizations are propaganda machines formed by the liberal elite to spread false or misleading information to a gullible public. That kind of opinion was formed for papers like the NYT and the Washington Post without ever reading a single article. The main sources of correct information for millions are Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity,  and assorted other self proclaimed pundits who deliver the news unfiltered by bias or spurious motives or so they say, only the "fair and balanced" news.  

I have said for many years that political advertising from both parties is predicated on a sizable segment of viewers having virtually no correct information about any of the issues. The way to stop false and misleading political advertising would be to have the vast majority of the electorate so informed that the false ads would be counter-productive. Since this will likely never happen, then lying away in political ads will continue to be part of the road to power in the U.S. 

The most recent article in the NYT in its series called the Reckoning is probably its worse. NYT  In this most recent article, there is an attempt to tie the Bush Administration to the housing crisis.  Most of the information contained in the article is not new, the article is too long and disjointed, and fails to justify its placement on the front page.  

I make these judgments after reading the article, as opposed to forming the opinion before I read it which is apparently the preferred method for forming opinions.  The article does punch a few holes in W's story about being ahead of the curve and trying to stop the coming financial debacle, as he claimed in his interview with Charles Gibson. ABC News: Transcript

But facts have never concerned him much. Bush and Sarah share one very important personality trait. It is best to form opinions before you have the facts and then dismiss any facts inconsistent with the opinion. I am not sure why that process is considered by many to be a trait of conservative thought. 

Some true conservatives are just amazed at what passes for conservative thought these days.

In the latest article in the Reckoning series, one piece of information which was new to me was a summary of a meeting between W, Paulson and Bernanke after the  GSE's were seized and AIG was bailed out.   

Paulson and Bernanke laid out the scenario for Financial Armageddon for W who just looked stunned.  W then asked "how did we get here"-as clueless on economic matters as he was on the Iraq invasion.  

The only other piece of new information in this article for me was W's effort to fire Armando Falcon, who once ran the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the agency responsible for overseeing Fannie and Freddie.  This was after Falcon issued a critical report on the GSEs, warning of a worse case scenario developing with the GSE's defaulting on their debt and also critical of their use of derivatives.  

The White House wanted to fire him the day this critical report was issued because at that time W was an ally of those seeking to expand Fannie and Freddie's role in the mortgage market. 

This does not sound like W getting behind an effort then to increase regulatory oversight, as he claims now. A better article might be a more complete factual analysis of how the Democratic party protected the GSEs from effective regulation and expanded their role in the mortgage market (see 3rd paragraph discussion in my post of a prior NYT article that touched on Barney Frank's role: 


It is apparent now that most of the 350 billion doled out by Paulson was done with almost no oversight on how the money would be used.  A significant part of the taxpayer bailout will be used to pay bonuses to those who facilitated the crisis that required a bailout.   One piece of new news on this subject came from a recent article in the Washington Post written by Amit Paley. washingtonpost.com  

Congress had wanted to limit the egregious executive pay for companies receiving taxpayer money. At the last minute, W added a sentence in the bill that gutted this effort.  This one sentence provided that the penalties for violating the executive compensation rules would apply only to firms selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which has not happened because Paulson changed course and doled out the funds to the banks in a different way.   

I mentioned in a prior post how the public was knowingly misled by W's insistence that seized aluminum tubes proved Iraq was engaged in a nuclear program. Trust the Government?


Of course, if you accepted the opinion of Joe at the CIA who was not an expert and dismissed the opinions of the leading scientists at Oak Ridge that these aluminum tubes could not be used to enrich uranium, then you could argue that W was not lying about it. If you want, you can always find some fool agreeing to voice the "correct" opinion, meaning the only one that you want to hear or the only one supporting your already formed position. The same degree of falsity is equally true about the claims that Iraq had attempted to secure yellow cake from Niger.  W's case was based on documents that were clearly forged, and the forgery was so crude that a google search would have revealed it. 

One of the letters was purportedly signed by a Niger official who did not hold office at the time. The signatures were faked, the text of the letters contained glaring factual errors, and it was obvious to anyone who viewed them that they were in fact crude forgeries.  In other words, no one interested in the truth, as opposed to "fixing" the facts to justify a decision already made without regard to accurate intelligence, would rely on those obvious forgeries.  

Those who believe W's story about being the victim of flawed intelligence will never look behind the claim to attempt to assess its veracity. Congress has shown little desire to investigate the use of intelligence to justify the case for war.  So, being gullible and unwilling to ferret out any inconsistent information, many will simply accept W's version of events given by him in the recent interview with Charles Gibson of ABC, where W made it sound like he was the victim of bad intelligence.  Mitchell Bard: Bush's Interview wtih Charlie Gibson Marks the Start of His Effort to Revise History   

In accepting W's version, it is imperative to ignore that the best evidence was frequently that the evidence did not prove what W was asserting or could not be relied upon by any thinking person interested in the truth. 

Then you also have to ignore such embarrassments as the Downing Street memo where the head of British intelligence said that W was fixing the facts and intelligence to justify the war. Downing Street memo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  


After this memo was released, we were told that the British have a unique way in using the word "fixed" which made the memo innocent and devoid of its sinister connotations. Downing Street memo - Wikipedia And some may even remember that the inspectors had not found anything just before the war started, and it then became urgent to launch the war as they continued to come back empty handed day after day. I do not think that W is the first person to systematically mislead and lie to the American people about launching an ill-advised war.  

LBJ, a Democrat, could likewise be criticized for the justifications given by his administration for expanding America's involvement in Vietnam. I do consider W's actions to be more serious than lying about having sex with an intern, but that is just one of the peculiar aspects of my personality.  

Really, what is more important, lying about sex with an intern or lying about a war that costs thousand of American lives, lowers America's standing in the world,  causes tens of thousands of civilian deaths and untold misery of hundreds of thousands more, results in thousands of lifelong disabilities of American soldiers remembered with yellow ribbons on SUVs here in the SUV Capital,  costs a trillion or so dollars that we don't have, and adds nothing to our security and may have made it worse. 

The answer is clear in this part of the country-lying about having sex with someone who is not your wife is far more important.  One thing is for sure.  The lies work on millions of people. And it is not the media doing the lying. 

No comments:

Post a Comment