Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's the Media, Stupid

Beautiful mini-skirted Russian
women in high heels shovel snow
in St. Petersburg to attract men.

These Republicans, like me and grandpa, they just don’t seem to do well with these new-fangled gadgets like the internet (you know, that network of tubes), google, instant replay, or even videotape. The latest victim of this burgeoning technology is Representative Christopher Lee, a Republican from New York. Mr. Lee apparently thought he could go public on Craigslist to impress a young lady, with a bare-chested photo of himself, lie about his age and marital status, and somehow get away with it. As he is married with at least one child he was exposed and resigned immediately.

Representative Lee is hardly the first or only Republican to fall victim to a technology they apparently do not understand or appreciate. Bill O’Reilly was just caught in an egregious lie when, to make a point, he authoritatively cited a Parisian publication that doesn’t even exist. Probably even 50 years ago he could have done this and it would have taken so long to discover the truth it wouldn’t have made much difference. Now, however, what with google and the internet and such, a lie can more often than not be exposed immediately.

Nowhere has this been shown more brilliantly than on the Daily Show. When one of the blond bimbos on Fox “news” that pass as commentators (or whatever they are) tell a lie as they often do, they can immediately be exposed as blatant liars. Recently one of them claimed that no one on Fox ever used the term Nazi, but almost instantaneously appeared four or five videos of Fox employees doing just that. They just don’t seem to understand that lying just isn’t what it used to be.

Politicians are beginning to learn (or perhaps not) that lying and hypocrisy is not easy anymore. When a politician now claims he or she did not say something they did say, it has most probably been caught and preserved on videotape and can quickly be found. Even emails, as the Bush White House learned, do not easily disappear and can often be dredged up even when supposedly lost. Similarly, when someone makes a faux pas or is caught in an unguarded moment it can haunt them forever. How many times, for example, did we see President Clinton hugging Monica, or Bush trying to give Merkel a back rub, or the former Senator Allen repeating “Macaca?” How about the sometimes excruciatingly embarrassing confessions of extra-marital affairs? This is, of course, a truly serious problem for serial flip-floppers like John McCain who has been recorded as making at least as many as 61, besides having to admit he didn’t even know how many houses he owns. At the moment many Republicans are being exposed as flip-floppers because in their eagerness to destroy health care they have forgotten they are now opposed even to elements they themselves originally suggested and wanted. One of the things that amazes me the most about this is their complete lack of shame. They are so determined to destroy Obama they are willing to do and say anything even though it completely contradicts their previous positions. If Obama is for it, they are now against it.

The internet and related technologies are slowly changing the way politicians and others have to behave. It was easy to deny history in the past but that is no longer true. History is no longer merely written by the winners, it exists on film and audiotape, not merely as a written recrord. If there is some disagreement about what someone actually said or meant we can now go to the original and usually settle the argument. And as Wikileaks has now made clear, even governing is no longer as simple (and private) as it was. Transparency is not something we just think about, it is increasingly demanded. There is no doubt that the internet has played an important role in the current unrest in Egypt and the Middle East. Facebook, for example, has been apparently instrumental in the revolutionary uprisings in Egypt. As more and more of the world is becoming part of this amazing development who is to know what monumental changes might be in store for the human community? I sometimes fear that technological developments are moving too fast for moral and ethical standards to keep up. I think this is true, for example, of genetically modified crops and animals, and certainly the case in the technology of war and killing. Somehow I don’t fear the internet, that I hope will eventually prove to be a remarkable aid in human affairs (that can certainly need all the help we can find).

They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.
Dorothy Parker

Paper money originated in ancient China in the form of “notes,” allowing the bearer to redeem coins left with trustworthy individuals.

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