Little Lies, Big Lies, and American Lies

Representative Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is a member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee, which guides national science policy. His constituents, who elected and re-elected him, are untroubled apparently that Broun rejects science as a legitimate basis for decision-making. Broun has publicly called evolution – and all that we’ve learned about the process – “lies.”

Not “badly misunderstood.” Not “open to widely divergent interpretation.”

Lies.

Well, all right then! We take this opportunity to wonder out loud what that makes Mormonism in Broun’s estimation? Or his Party’s simultaneous denunciation of Federal entitlements and embrace of corporate welfare?

And speaking of Mitt Romney…is it unfair to call his entire campaign a lie? The animatronic Romney has morphed from moderate to extremist to moderate, a chrysalis in constant flux. The tune changes depending on what the house band prefers to play, but the animatronic Romney, at its essence, remains a very rich, pro-war mendicant.

Fibbing about who your tax plan will aid is a relatively small lie, the kind of fabrication that goes unnoticed except among the chattering class, who pass along their chagrin during vexed appearances on MSNBC and Fox News. Then everyone is irked for a day or two or three, and the lie goes away, replaced by another little one. The kind of lies that really matter are the big ones.

Big lies get told over and over until they appear not to be lies at all, but something most people would be tempted to call the truth. Hitler’s propaganda team understood this, and famously said so.

Two of the biggest lies we Americans accept as the truth – that a large military keeps us safe, and that unmanned drone assassinations are legal — prey on our innate ability to live in fear. If you can concoct a lie that makes folks less fearful, maybe even unafraid, you’ve got yourself a dog that will hunt.

Many of us believe that we require a military with more than 1,000 staffed bases around the world, a military with a budget equal to the next 14 nations, most of which are allies. Many of us believe that spending an estimated $1.45 trillion on the state-of-the-art F-35 aircraft – more than any country on the planet (including us at present) spends on its entire national defense – is a sane use of resources. Yet, by any reasonable measure, our military superiority hasn’t bought us anything like world supremacy, or even a sense of indomitableness. We’re still chasing a few thousand jihadis around the Middle East, still allowing murderous butchers to remain in power, still planning the next bombing campaign.

Our massive military, bought with money that could have been spent on health, education, and general welfare, has earned us the hatred and derision of most of the rest of the world. Even our “friends” view us as arrogant and brutish. Yet, we’re in a constant state of war, a constant state of retaliation and coercion. Our giant expensive astonishing military doesn’t make us safer. It makes us less safe.

Many of us think it’s OK for our drones, many of them operated by the CIA (itself a growing arm of the military-industrial-complex), to murder whomever we decide needs murdering, whether or not that person is in a war zone and whether or not that person is an American citizen. Many of us think it’s legal under U.S. and international law to kill foreigners on foreign lands, without due process. Many of us think doing so is keeping us safe. People like Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen OConnell thinks that’s a lie, a big one. “We wouldn’t accept a world in which Russia or China or Iran is claiming authority to kill alleged enemies of the state based on secret evidence of the executive branch alone,” she’s postulated. But we ain’t China!

That old socialist Barack Obama has sharply increased drone attacks, including killings in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, places where we’ve not formally declared war. Under Obama, the peace-loving USA has launched more than 325 drone missile strikes. Under Bush the Younger: 47.

Are we safer? According to the nonpartisan New America Foundation, up to 3,000 people have been killed by American drones, many of them civilians. For every operational plot foiled, we’ve surely inspired 100 new ones, born of an abiding hatred for a distant nation that would murder innocents as a regrettable cost of doing business. You can understand how the average Pakistani might think Barack Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is another one of those big lies.

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