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Monday, August 29, 2005

Lies, Money, and Politics

Why is it that Mr. Whipple can be thrown in jail if he can't prove that Charmin really is softer than other brands, but our political leaders are allowed to pass off outright lies to us with complete immunity?

One reason, of course, is that Mr. Whipple doesn't make the laws.

While that may be the right answer in a political-science kind of way, it sickens me that our political system has become a way to determine who is the best liar - which is usually determined by who tells the best lies to the people with the most money.

Of course, the Bush Administration has reached new heights in doing so. It's no longer good enough to take money from the willing to promote your lies, you now need to use taxpayer money, official government workers, and, of course, any political hack with a public voice that is willing to be a good whore.

Amid silence of deafening proportions, the Lautenberg-Kerry Bill was introduced - and not even a whimper was heard (full text of bill listed here). Officially, the bill will be debated in May, which means it will come up for a vote on the 5th of Never. The simple truth is that politicians don't want to tell the truth.

And that is the problem. Democracy depends on a well-informed public who weigh the issues (somewhat carefully, it is hoped) and vote in their own self interest. When official propaganda supplants legitimate news sources, though, how well informed can the public be? Yes, there are people who carefully wade through tons of misinformation to try and get an honest story out, but they are generally shouted down by the echo-chambers from either side. I am a firm believer that truth will always eventually win out - but political campaigns are on a tight schedule. "Eventually" the current President's popularity has plummeted lower than even Richard Nixon's at the height of Watergate. That did little good for those of us who say through his inst-o-matic grin and platitudes back in 2003.

True, Lautenberg-Kerry will not drastically change everything that needs to be changed. It is only one tiny step towards makign our government more transparent and our news more reliable. But, to borrow words from a certain astronaut, some small steps can become giant leaps when viewed through a historical lens.

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