Hoped this morning to take an early-morning motorcycle ride this morning, but dense delayed that start of the day.
Hope to head out shortly, avoiding the final act of the Supreme Court melodrama that has enveloped Washington and much of the nation for the past three weeks.
As a newsman whose job largely concerns the political circus that controls the U.S. government, I too often spend long days (and many nights) writing my own stories and columns, editing the works of others as part of production of a news website and try to draw on my 23 years in the Washington, DC, area — including a dozen of them as a political operative — o help report, examine and explain what does and does not happen.
Today’s news operations try to explain their role in short mottos: “Democracy dies in darkness,” declared The Washington Post, now owned by web-billionaire Jeff Bezos. “The truth is more important than ever,” says The New York Times, which operated for many, many years is the motto: “All the news that’s fit to print.”
Over at my modest news operation, the longtime slogan for Capitol Hill Blue was “Because nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session or the White House is occupied.” The slogan remains but we’ve added a George Orwell quote underneath: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Republican Senator Hiram Johnson, elected in 1917 from California, is usually credited as the author of “the first casualty when war comes is truth.” Greek dramatist Aeschylus wrote: “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Fifth century general Sun Tzu’s rule for the conduct of war said: “all warfare is based on deception.”
Such is the irony: Determining who first said war thrives by the absence of truth is, itself, subject to interpretation.
So, apparently, is reality.
Robert Anton Wilson writes: “Every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don’t even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think this is reality.”
Anais Nin joins in: ‘We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
In a society dominated by partisanship, beliefs are too often presented as “facts” with no collaboration or documentation. Fact-checking services, which have grown as truth becomes a lost cause, document more than 5,000 absolute lies or misleading claims by current president Donald Trump.
His defense: “I am the only one who tells you the truth.” That, in itself, is a documented and proven lie.
Yet he is the elected leader of the nation — by a majority of electoral college voters but not the actual majority of those who cast ballots in polling places. Under current law, that makes him the president. He’s not the only one who won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college. Just ask Al Gore or others.
Trump has selected two new members of the Supreme Court. His second, set for confirmation as this is written, will definitely turn the nation’s highest court to an ultra-conservative majority. GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell helped seal that hard-right turn when he halted previous president Barack Obama’s nomination of a justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia for 10 months in 2016.
McConnell used the rules of the Senate to delay and destroy the nomination. Legally, he could. We can argue whether or not it was right until the cows come home (which is always a good barometer here in the Blue Ridge Mountains), but he didn’t violate the rules).
Kavanaugh’s confirmation on this Saturday in October is not the final chapter of what America is — or will — become. Voters next month have a say in what happens to us in the coming months and years.
Voters have an opportunity to change the face of Congress in the midterm elections. Will they change the leadership of the House of Representatives and/or the Senate? Or will they continue things as they are?
Each of us 18 or older, and who are citizens, have the right and the power to change or keep the status quo.
We alone have the power to decide whether or not truth is a permanent casualty of political war.