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By David Podvin

Dishonesty is such an intrinsic part of being a conservative that the tidal wave of examples just keeps rolling.

An especially significant right wing deception involves our ultranationalist friends in the Pentagon, the ones who are so much more patriotic than you and me that their absentee ballots are counted even when they are cast illegally. The military exultantly announced the success of the latest test of the Strategic Initiative To Use The Fiction Of Missile Defense In Order To Transfer Trillions Of Dollars From The Middle Class To The Aerospace Contributors Of The Republican Party, or SITUTFOMDIOTTTODFTMCTTACOTRP, for short.

This self-congratulatory proclamation of their own competence came from the boys who lied to us about the Cold War, Vietnam, Grenada, and the Battle To Restore Democracy In Kuwait. The only question was whether any mainstream media outlet would be willing to report that the test was actually a failure and that the uniformed branch of the G.O.P. was deceiving us again.

Thank you, Los Angeles Times.

When it comes to cataloguing the lies of George W. Bush, a column cannot be expected to contain a volume of information that is so much better suited to an encyclopedia. The only distant scent of integrity that is associated with the current regime is that they are the rare politicians who govern exactly as they campaigned. Unfortunately, that means lying at every opportunity. They began their first day in the White House by spreading the slander that the place had been vandalized. In doing so, they falsely implicated a real president, his non-Stepford wife, and their sober daughter.

Bush could never have been elected by telling the American people the truth about what he intended to do, or whom he intended to do it to. In order to pass his tax cut scheme that further enriched the super wealthy, he had to lie about who would benefit. He now knows that his far right wing agenda cannot possibly pass, even in the Republican controlled House of Representatives, unless he totally misrepresents it.

So he does.

He lies about more than just tax cut redistribution of wealth schemes and a phenomenally expensive missile defense system that can only work if the people who launch an attack are considerate enough tell us when and where. He lies about his budget, allocating the same tax dollars to more than one program in order to obscure the shortfall caused by his generous donation of your tax dollars to his corporate benefactors. He lies about a nonexistent energy crisis that he uses as a pretext to allow his oil buddies to gouge consumers while he demands that environmental laws must be repealed in the name of economic responsibility. He lies publicly about being a “strong environmentalist” while privately green lighting his donors in the chemical and mining industries to use the purple mountains majesty as a dumping ground for their toxic industrial waste. He lies about “leaving no child behind” while decimating funding for pediatric hospitals, child abuse prevention, and child literacy programs. He lies about his “patient’s bill of rights”, which is really a bill of rights for his H.M.O. donors to maximize profits at the expense of sick people. He lies when he claims that his judicial appointments are chosen “with no litmus test” while making judicial appointments who consistently pass the “I am a goose stepping Antonin Scalia clone” litmus test. He lies when he promises to have gun policies that are “completely independent of special interests”, then slavishly does the bidding of the National Rifle Association on every firearms issue.

Bush lied when he told his staff at its swearing-in ceremony that he expected "every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define ethical and legal conduct. This means avoiding even the appearance of problems." Since that time, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove have routinely engaged in blatant conflicts of interests involving the energy, pharmaceutical, and data processing industries without incurring even the mildest rebuke from a man who is ethically four quarts short of a gallon.

And on and on and on it goes, completely unchallenged by the mainstream media that was so apoplectically outraged by a lie about oral sex.

On those rare occasions when Bush is not lying, which would also be those rare occasions when Bush is not talking, he has other people to lie for him.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was known as the Republican Party’s favorite Democratic Senator. They could never figure out how someone who was so consistently dishonest had not thrown in with the G.O.P.

Now he has. He is the “bipartisan” presence on the commission that Bush handpicked to use scare tactics designed to stampede the Congress into destroying Social Security. Moynihan has dutifully participated in one of the most despicable lies in recent history. It is a degenerate attempt to screw old folks out of their retirement benefits by creating a nonexistent crisis that can only be “solved” by handing over the Social Security trust fund to the loyal Republican campaign contributors on Wall Street.

The conservatives in Congress are anxious to help this scam along, which is consistent with their record of compulsively deceiving the public at every opportunity. House Speaker Dennis Hastert recently lied when he said that he had not deliberately derailed campaign finance reform by threatening wavering Republicans with a loss of their party funding. The wavering Republicans caved in, but then tattled that Hastert had blackmailed them and lied about it. This was a replay of the impeachment atrocity, when House consigliere Tom DeLay did exactly the same thing and then told exactly the same lie. Republican Senate leader Trent Lott was caught speaking to a racist group that advocates slavery and denies the Holocaust. He lied about it, he was discovered to be a member of the group, and then he lied about that. For all of this, Lott was called “a man who exemplifies Republican integrity” by Republican Senator Don Nickles.

So true.

Conservatives screamed for years about “judicial activism”. They demanded that judges restrain themselves from engaging in “interventionism”, and that they instead confine themselves to the “strict constructionist” approach of interpreting the “original intent” of the founders.

It was all a lie.

Now that conservatives dominate the federal judiciary from the Supreme Court on down, there is an unprecedented level of judicial activism. The Supreme Court has confiscated constitutional authority from the legislative and executive branches. For example, the Constitution explicitly directs that presidential election disputes must be resolved by Congress. Yet on this and virtually every other major issue, from laws that protect the handicapped to those that deal with commerce and the environment, this right wing court has overstepped its authority and conferred upon itself power that it is not Constitutionally entitled to have. They have consistently been deceitful to achieve their predetermined conservative goals.

In the case of Bush v. Gore, the first part of their ruling cited the Equal Protection clause as justification for stopping the vote count. Realizing that this would invalidate every election in the country, they then rescinded the relevance of the Equal Protection clause in the latter part of their ruling, thereby selecting Bush using a rationale that they now contend no longer applies.

In unconvoluted English, they lied.

And the conservatives’ past complaints about “judicial activism”? They don’t apply when activist judges are wise enough to protect corporate rights instead of human rights, and to steal elections for conservative candidates.

The conservative clergy is notoriously dishonest. Pat Robertson claimed that Methodists and Episcopalians were not “real” Christians, then denied saying it, then claimed that he had misquoted himself. Jerry Falwell distributed videotapes that claimed Bill Clinton was a serial murderer, denied ever doing it, and then claimed that he had done it without knowing that he had done it. Donald Wildmon has frequently made racist and anti-Semitic comments, and then denied saying anything of the kind. He has now concluded that anyone who challenges racist and anti-Semitic statements is racist and anti-Semitic.

The right wing financial publications are unremittingly deceptive.

The Wall Street Journal combines lying for major brokerage firms by issuing positive propaganda on overpriced I.P.O.’s with lying for the Republican Party by “revealing” fictional Democratic scandals. Vince Foster committed suicide after reportedly becoming depressed at the Journal’s unceasing libel of him, a report that caused the Journal to respond with an editorial that featured less denial than gloating.

The Journal’s evil twin, Investor’s Business Daily, recently ran a headline that proclaimed “Bush’s ‘Gender Gap’ Is Narrowing”. The story began by congratulating Bush on his success for diminishing the gap that exists in his support between men and women. If the intrepid reader plowed ahead through the poorly written conservative propaganda, then it turned out that Bush had gained one percent among women, while losing five percent among men. Voila! Success at diminishing the gender gap!

May he always enjoy such success.

These conservative publications obviously got their ethic of candor from Pravda, which once reported the outcome of a two man race between a Russian and an American by revealing that the Russian came in second, while the American finished next to last.

It is widely anticipated that, in the next edition of Roget’s Thesaurus, the first synonym of choice for “liar” is going to be “FOX News”. This is the self-proclaimed “Fair and Balanced” alternative to the news broadcasts that are owned by leftist organizations like General Electric. FOX specializes in misleading viewers by using omission of facts and rhetorical gymnastics.

One typical example: anticipating that Al Gore might lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote, FOX reported before the election that a legitimate president was one who got more popular votes than anyone else. When Bush lost the popular vote but was awarded an Electoral College gift by the Supreme Court, FOX reported that a legitimate president was the one who got the most Electoral College votes. Additionally, and this is beautiful, FOX announced that the popular vote winner was not the guy who got the most popular votes, but the guy who won the most states, counties, cities, towns, and aggregate geographic land mass. Since Bush dominated in all of those categories, it was fair (and balanced) to say that he won the election…in a landslide.

The rest of the corporate media is comparably pathetic. Whether it’s Tim Russert of General Electric or Peter Jennings of Disney or the New York Times or the Washington Post, the uniform standard is that truth is to be reported when it serves the interest of the multinationals that sign the reporters’ paychecks. The rest of the time, truth is to be edited, revised, improved, halved, or deleted entirely. What’s acceptable behavior for corporate favorites like Bush is intolerably scandalous when done by people who don’t believe that what’s good for General Motors is good for America.

The TV pundits are either conservatives or conservatives posing as liberals. The mindless uniformity of thoughtlessness and the lockstep repetition of a corporate party line that treats the truth like a pińata is not the result of natural selection. It’s not as though honorable people suddenly become disingenuous whores when they are asked to give their political opinions on TV. It’s that honorable people are rarely asked to give their political opinions on TV, a medium that is totally controlled by massive dishonest conservative conglomerates.

Harry Truman said that, although most people occasionally talk out of both sides of their mouths, Richard Nixon was the only one who he’d ever met who could lie out of both sides of his mouth.

President Truman never met Rush Limbaugh.

It is no accident that Limbaugh is the icon of American conservatives, the embodiment of their values, and their voice of reason. He is, without a doubt, as dishonest as it is humanly possible to be. He combines lies, insinuation, innuendo, and sophistry into a giant cesspool of deception, making him a prototype of Republicanism.

Limbaugh had Bill Clinton murdering and raping a higher percentage of his own countrymen than Pol Pot could ever have dreamed possible. When Limbaugh wasn’t speculating that Al Gore was gay, he was accusing the vice president of sleeping with his own daughters. He has accused Democrats of every conceivable crime and depravity, backing up his slander with imaginary evidence and an endless torrent of new unsubstantiated allegations.

Rush Limbaugh is much more than a big, fat idiot. He is an infinitely malicious liar and coward whose only legacy will be that he raised the acceptable level of character assassination in America to previously unattainable heights.

In a country that valued honesty, Limbaugh would now be slowly turning on a spit with a Golden Delicious tightly wedged in his mouth.

All political and social movements have deceitful people in them. People of all philosophical stripes have lied. The key is whether the lies have been an individual failing or an essential part of the program.

The conservative philosophy is inherently dishonest, and therefore so are the people who advocate it. Their core beliefs are harmful to the majority of citizens, so they cannot win elections and govern by telling the truth. Lying becomes an essential way of life. This explains why, whether the issue is adultery or campaign fundraising violations, conservatives can generate frenzied moral indignation when their political opponents get caught doing exactly what conservatives have been doing all along. It is why Trent Lott can piously demand that Gary Condit must resign from Congress for cheating on his wife when Lott knows that, if this standard were universally applied, then G.O.P. politicians would be dropping faster than pandas at an N.R.A. convention.

This goes far beyond hypocrisy. It is the basest form of dishonesty. It is the dishonesty that asserts truth applies only to other people. It is the rationale that is necessary for human beings to give themselves permission to do evil things like steal elections using racist tactics. It is dishonesty that requires a certain amount of self-deception, but that’s no problem for the masters of deceit.

It was conservative philosopher George Costanza who identified the moral code of the Republican Party. He explained that, no matter what you say, it’s not a lie as long as you can convince yourself to believe it.

When the next Supreme Court vacancy occurs, and Bush has the opportunity to put his conservative “moral” imprint on the future of America, remember the name Costanza. It won’t be the name of the nominee, but it might as well be.

For the American conservative movement, lying is good. Lying works. Lying has been a beautiful wickedness for the Republican Party.

The best way to defeat lying is simply to tell the truth. This must be done forcefully and unflinchingly, without fearing the inevitable shrieking tantrums that will be thrown by the G.O.P. and their winged media monkeys.

Someone must work up the nerve to toss water on the Wicked Witch. If a timid little girl from Kansas can do it, then so can a timid little guy from South Dakota.

More David Podvin

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Last changed: December 13, 2009