Friday, March 13, 2009

Republican Culture and the Value of Truth

The Republican culture, such as it is, appears to be a culture that places little or no value on truth. That is to say, if anthropologists were to discover a whole society built on Republican values, they would find a society whose members are indifferent as to whether a claim is true or false.

One of the characteristics that we would find in a culture that values truth is that they would hate inconsistency. A lover of truth knows that if she says A at one moment, and not-A at another moment, that one of these claims are false. As a lover of truth, she would loathe to make a false claim. This, then, will motivate her to discover which proposition is false so that she can embrace the one that is true.

In writing this blog, I have an obligation to make each post I write consistent with the 1250 posts that I have already written. If any of my new posts contradict an earlier post, I must explain what new information I acquired that moved me to change my mind.

Another reason why a person would make one claim at one moment an da different claim at another moment is that he has no love of truth and, as such, he makes only those claims that are convenient at a particular moment.

The current inconsistency that inspires this post is the Republican inconsistency when it comes to economic downturn.

Two months after George Bush took office for the first time, the tech bubble burst in the stock market. People started losing their jobs, businesses went bankrupt, retirement savings plummeted as stock values went down. Yet, the Republicans at that time said that this could not possibly be Bush's fault. It happened too soon after he took office. Rather, this was a natural market down turn (at best), or the seeds of the recession were planted in the Clinton administration.

Either way, we cannot hold a President responsible for an economic downturn that started within the first several months of a President’s administration.

Now, they are eager to blame the current administration on Obama – trying to fix in the public mind that this is the "Obama recession."

(See Media Matters: Hannity, Limbaugh promote myth of an 'Obama recession')

A lover of truth would be embarrassed by this. She would recognize the contradiction in claiming that two months is not enough time for a President to have an effect on the economy, and that two months is more than enough time for a President to have an effect on the economy. She would see this as evidence that the speaker does not care much about truth at all, but is governed instead by the principle of current expedience.

She knows that such a person is not to be trusted because the next claim that comes out of his mouth will also be guided by political expedience with no love of truth behind it.

Sure, parents in the Republican culture that says that political expedience counts but truth does not probably raise their children claiming that honesty has value. However, those children will soon learn how little those parents actually value truth by looking at who those parents promote as being good role models. The fact that those parents are promoting people who make inconsistent claims depending on what is useful to claim at the moment teaches the children to value current expedience over truth as well.

This is how the Republican culture is passed on from one generation to the next, through these types of lessons.

Now, I am not saying that no Republican values truth. The fact that a culture puts no value in truth does not imply that there are not people within that culture who do not share their culture’s values. It only says that they are too few and too weak to have much of an influence on the overall culture. The lovers of truth in the Republican culture are a weak and ineffective minority.

Nor am I saying that the Democrats are any different. After all, I dropped Crooks and Liars from my list of recommended sites at once time because it proved to be more concerned with political expedience than truth, and I have written a few posts condemning hypocrisy in the Democratic camp as well.

None of this changes the fact that Republican values are those that hold that truth is unimportant, and one that does not feel the least bit of shame in making inconsistent claims about how long it takes for a President’s policies to have an effect on the economy.

Whatever values Republicans hold that makes them think that they are the true holders of virtue, honesty and a love of truth are not to be found among them. Theirs is a culture of hypocrisy, deception, and convenient fictions. They may not be the only culture to hold such values, but they do hold those values.


Luke said...

This may or may not be fodder for your ethics writing mill.

anton said...

Yes, Alonzo, you are hitting the nail on the head. How many remember that Adolf Hitler's advice was that if they don't believe you, just tell a bigger lie. Unfortunately, people who don't tell the truth violently claim that since they aren't Hitler's or Austrians it automatically means they are telling the truth.

Hume's Ghost said...

I'm going to put up a post either tonight or tommorrow addressing the alternate fact-free universe that broacasts hundreds of hours of week on AM radio (and which spills over into the regular press.)

In other news, Ari Fleischer was on Hardball a day or so ago saying that Obama should be thankful for Bush's budget busting tax cuts for the rich because they led to record breaking job creation. In reality, George W. Bush has the worst job creation record since the gov't has been keeping records.

More outrageously even that that, Fleischer implied that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks and that Obama should be thankful he doesn't have to worry about Hussein attacking us again. As if he had attacked us in the first place.

Hume's Ghost said...

nevermind, probably be a few days before I have that post up

Anonymous said...

Hume's Ghost, I just watched the Fleischer-Matthews interview, and Fleischer doesn't suggest that Saddam was behind 9/11. It looked pretty clear to me that he was saying Obama should be thankful there wasn't a second attack on American soil, the second of which would have been perpetrated by Saddam.

I understand you see everything through a prism that wants to believe Republicans are the embodiment of evil, but give the guy a break -- I don't think it's a shocker that, after spending 15 minutes butting heads with one of the media's most boorish, unprofessional voices, Fleischer fails to word one statement as precise as he could have.

Martin Freedman said...

Hi Alonzo

I have added you blog to Networked Blogs in facebook, you might want to claim authorship of this. I left a message on your wall.


Anonymous said...

Anon - there was no evidence that Sadam would have ever been able to perpetrate any hostile act on US soil. Or are you forgetting that Bush declared war based on lies?

FLEISCHER: But after September 11th, having been being hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?

Um, yes, Fleischer basically states in clear terms that Sadam was responsible for 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Am I forgetting that Bush declared war based on lies? No, it's just that he didn't base it on lies. Not only do you need to refresh your memory of the historical record, but you need to think twice about how positing such foolish statements as givens reflects on your rationality. I stand by my read of Fleischer's comments, especially since the bush administration has NEVER accused Saddam of 9/11. That's just a left-wing lie.

Anonymous said...

Anon - If you believe that (especially now, after so much has come to the surface) then there is no point talking to you. You have succumbed to the culture of lies. I only hope that you regain your love of honesty before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

So let me see if I have this right: you throw out a highly partisan meme, and anybody who doesn't buy the meme is beyond talking to. Nice little shell game you've got going! Of course, it's complete BS, but if it makes you feel good about yourself, well I guess that's all that really matters, now isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Anon - if the truth is partisan, it is only because certain people identifying with a certain political party completely abandoned the truth. The facts are easily available for anyone to verify.

I'm not saying it can't happen to the democrats just as easily. It's just that this time, it happened to the republicans.

Anonymous said...

Yes, "certain people identifying with a certain political party" have indeed abandoned the truth.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


Actually, I think that the option that deserves the least respect are those who claim that truth is a partisan meme.

People who judge truth or fiction by party affiliation - e.g., "Republicans believe X so it must be true" or "The Democratic Party favors Y so it must be a good idea," are using a highly unreliable method of separating truth from fiction.

Fact: There are members of both parties who have a loose relationship with the truth. The proper approach is to find the truth, then take that truth to the party. It is not to look at what is believed by members of a party, then to insist that this must be the truth.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, Alonzo. Which is why I would never claim anything of the sort. I claimed that a partisan meme was a partisan meme, not that "the truth" was such.

Hume's Ghost said...

Right, partisan. This is the same Ari Fleischer who is a part of Freedom's Watch, which ran commericials saying we need to keep troops in Iraq because "they attacked us."

Whether or not administration officials explicitly state "Saddam caused 9/11" is irrelevant. What matters is the obvious pattern of conflating Iraq and 9/11 by the persons responsbile for marketing the invasion of Iraq. They and their pr consultant surely knew what they were doing and how the human mind process such statements. Which is why so many Americans believed and continue to believe Saddam had a role in 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Ghost, you're living in a fantasy world. Can you actually direct anyone to one of these commercials? The fair-minded accuse people of deception based on EVIDENCE, not based on crap fantasies about "PR consultants." Grow up.

Hume's Ghost said...

If by "fantasy world" you mean fact based reality, then, yes, I'm living in a fantasy world.

That pr teams were hired to help sell war with Iraq is not a controversial claim, and neither is the notion that Freedom's Watch consulted with media relations firms before running an ad campaign.


The ads also link the war with Sept. 11, despite no reliable evidence Iraq played any role in those attacks.

In the ad, Kriesel says, "They attacked us, and they will again. They won't stop in Iraq."

Weapons of Mass Deception by Rampton and Stauber is a good starting point for understanding the use of public relation in the marketing of war with Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, HG, but your attempt to defend the meme not only provides zero support for the claim that Team Bush tried to pin 9/11 on Saddam, it's actually a shining example of media dishonesty, which supports MY belief that this meme is willful left-wing deception.

Take the statement, "They attacked us, and they will again. They won't stop in Iraq." Consider that this ad started in mid-to-late 2007. Our main enemy in Iraq around that time wasn't Saddam's forces (it hasn't been for a good long while) -- it was Al Qaeda terrorists who have entered the country SINCE the invasion for the purpose of killing Americans and impeding Iraq's progress.

Given that, you don't mean to seriously say you think this guy was talking about Saddam having attacked us, do you? ABC knew better, the average viewer of any of these spots would have known better, and for your sake, I would hope you would know better.

Hume's Ghost said...

Al Qaeda terrorists haven't entered the country, not to any significant extent that I'm aware of. There is an "Al Qaeda" in Iraq, but it is an opportunistic franchise responsible for a small percentage of the over all violence in Iraq. Additionally, foreign fighters are also not the major source of conflict in Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq did not attack us on September 11.

I mean to say, seriously, as ABC News did, that the commericial blatantly conflated Iraq and 9/11 despite there not being any reason to do so.

The whole focus on AQI is itself a form of propaganda, as noted by AJ Rossmiller, a former intelligence analyst working for the Pentagon in Iraq (and who received excellent perfomance reviews.)