“Republican congressional offices shopped a false dossier as if it was White House emails.”
Rachel Maddow, pointing her finger and looking directly into the camera, challenged her peers at ABC News to say who in Congress peddled fake emails with false information on the White House role in the Benghazi “talking points” controversy.
“Someone in Congress or a staffer concocted a big lie to try to make the White House look very desperately bad on this Benghazi scandal that they otherwise have not been able to get traction with. Who told the lie?”… If your source lied to you they are not actually a source. They are a con artist and you are their victim. It means you don’t have to protect them anymore….Their lie to you is itself news and you can report that news.”
“Republican congressional offices shopped a false dossier as if it was White House emails. That is a story. The office and the staffers and the members of Congress who did that? That is news. And if you know who it is, you can say so.”
I am disappointed in Rachel Maddow and her guest tonight, Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, who was killed on Flight 93 on 9-11-2001, for using the term “conspiracy theorist” and for labeling people who hold to such theories as “kooks.”
I assume the 9-11 Truth activists they referred to in this dismissive manner know who the current president is, know what day it is and can probably hold down a job. However misguided, stubborn or misinformed Maddow and Hoagland consider these people to be, chances are they are no more or less mentally ill than any other sample of society.
The term “conspiracy theorist” bothers me because the way in which people use it is dangerously circular: If you believe in a “conspiracy theory,” you are crazy. Therefore, any explanation of a world event other than the official story espoused by elected officials is to be dismissed because only conspiracy theorists believe in such nonsense, and they are crazy.
How much actual wrongdoing goes uninvestigated and unreported by those who fear being shunned by society by being labeled “conspiracy theorists?”
What bothers me almost as much as people who label government skeptics conspiracy theorists are those at the other end of the conspiracy spectrum; that is, people who are never going to believe the official story simply because it is the official story, who believe that The Governnment is a monolithic Superpower that is always lying to us and is motivated only by the desire to deceive and enslave us, steal our money, harvest our organs, and poison whatever remains of our dessicated husks.
The Government is just people. It’s us. People who work in government, including elected officials, are motivated by the same forces that propel all behavior: ambition, compassion, duty, pity, lust, competitiveness, territoriality, fear, laziness, generosity, honor, spitefulness, love, resignation, compulsiveness, perfectionism, and habit. People in government commit noble, selfless acts at work. They also engage in petty, sometimes unscrupulous behavior. Sometimes the same person behaves both appallingly and heroically during the course of a government career.
Some of the biggest sins committed in government are sins of omission, such as the failure to blow the whistle on incompetent, illegal and immoral behavior. What is the primary cause of such failure to act? Fear. Fear of being fired, ostracized, labeled a crank, a cook, a Conspiracy Theorist.
Here is a web site with several conspiracies that really took place, including the Gunpowder Plot, the Tuskegee Experiments and, my favorite, the CIA’s horrifying MK-ULTRA project.
Why can’t more talk radio and talk television be like this? Like Jian Ghomeshi of CBC, David Pakman pushes the conversation to a new level by being polite and persistent. It doesn’t hurt to have an articulate guest who’s equally devoted to truth and fairness. For a longer interview with Nica Noelle, check out the interview I did with her a few years ago right here on this podcast. Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, take note.
One of the aims of this website is to improve the conversation by focusing on the way in which we discuss the issues, and nothing makes me happier than watching a conversation like this. In this video two conservatives on Fox News discuss same-sex marriage based on its merits and on procedural and legal matters pertinent to the Supreme Court. The results may surprise you.
Rather than the scream-a-thon that unfolded, rife with straw man arguments, false choices, interruptions on the part of all of the participants “statistics” cited without being backed up, I wanted to hear what all of the women had to say, including the ones on the tape that Hannity played to introduce the segment.
What would it have been like if they had conducted a true dialogue that touched upon subjects like the role of statistics in the debate? For example, even if statistics really do show that more people have their guns used against them, should that be the end of the story? I don’t know the answer to the question, which is why I would have preferred to hear more of what everyone had to say on the subject. I would have liked them to ponder the question of whether we can both teach men and boys not to rape and still protect ourselves from the disturbed, “unteachable” offenders who are still going to attack not just women but also men.
No, seriously, if you want to “win” an argument, accuse the other person of being racist, sexist, homophobic, a “one-percenter,” a socialist, un-American, anti-religious, etc.
An attack on someone’s motives grabs headlines, is something you never have to back up with evidence, and completely relieves you of the responsibility of backing up your claim with facts and logic: who knows what evil lurks in the heart of the other person? One can only imagine.
Once accused, there is no way to be proven innocent. The accusation is the sentence. Nothing will make you look more racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or unpatriotic than trying to prove that you are not.
Remember when Glenn Beck accused President Obama of having a “deep-seated hatred toward white people”? Like a dirty bomb spewing radiation into the atmosphere, that baseless “specusation” has lingered in the body politic for years, contaminating the public perception of Obama’s every statement and policy initiative.
The president himself, wisely and regularly refuses to dignify such remarks with a response. His top priority is getting his agenda passed, and his weapon of choice is reasoned debate. Engaging in a fruitless argument over whether or not he is racist or un-American or a Real Christian would distort his message and decrease the ratio of signal to noise in the overall debate.
Noting the rightward shift of the Democratic Party and his position as its standard bearer, some have called Obama an “Eisenhower Republican.” Policy matters aside, his leadership style does resemble that of Eisenhower, who, according to historian Fred I. Greenstein, avoided “engaging in personalities” at all costs, and who advised others to “never question a man’s motives.”
Engaging in personalities is a cheap way to win a fight. Making it into a habit causes the muscles of the heart to weaken and the brain to turn to mush. Specusation is seductive, precisely because it is so effective, and we as a society are forgetting how to debate in good faith using reason and logic. If we should lose that ability altogether, then our democracy really will be nothing more than legalized mob rule.
True confession – this weekend I was at the “Powerplant” Barnes and Noble in Baltimore & got mesmerized by Kitty Kelley’s biography of Oprah Winfrey. Wanting more without actually having to buy it, I went on YouTube & discovered Jian Ghomeshi’s interview with Kelley and was so impressed that I have been watching Ghomeshi on YouTube ever since. One of the interviews is with Martin Short, discussing the Oscars and the episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted right after the Sandy Hook massacre. He also has interviews with Angela Davis and Paglia’s arch-nemesis, Naomi Wolf (bwah-ha-ha-haaaa!).
This interview makes me very happy for several reasons. One is that I just love watching Camille Paglia. The other is this: at about 2:00 Ghomeshi does something few journalists ever do, which is ask the interviewee to define a term. Ghomeshi asks Paglia to “back up three steps” and explain what she means by the term “fine art.” Another interviewer would have been afraid to ask that question. This is so important, because for one person, as he explains, “fine” could be a value judgement, as in this piece of art is “Fine” as opposed to that one, which is not so hot.The next time a conversation seems to go off the rails for no good reason, stop to ask people to verify that they are both talking about the same thing.