Analysis by Kyle A. Lohmeier
It’s Monday and I needed a laugh. Naturally, I turned to Mother Jones Magazine. What passes for sufficient-to-dupe-the-uncritical-statist these days is always good for a belly laugh. Today was no exception.
Although, I do miss actual journalism. I’ll readily admit that at no point in American history has American journalism ever been perfect, far from it. Even at its worst it had to be a helluva lot better than what we have now – a vast ocean of know-nothing bloggers, hopped up on theistic adoration for their favorite political party and spewing endless propaganda. Even some the more “respected” news publications that predate the Internet have apparently decided that their all-important “web-presence” be dumbed down to the level of most of the rest of the Web. Although, for Mother Jones, that was a small step to take.
Today, the Mother Jones published a piece on last week’s brilliant New York Times Magazine article by David Samuels about President Obama’s “mind-melded” Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes. Well, actually, the MJ piece wasn’t really about the NYT Magazine piece, but about some of the fallout the revelations therein have caused.
One of the more interesting aspects of the NYT Magazine piece is the fact that the Obama Administration intentionally misled the American public into believing that it had been negotiating the Iran nuclear weapons deal exclusively with moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who won election two years prior. In reality, the administration had been in negotiations with Iran since 2012, under the regime of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has never been accused of being moderate about much of anything. In fact, actual intelligence experts, like Leon Panetta and others, say there is no such thing as the “moderate” wing of the Iranian regime and that its struggles against the “hardliners” in Iran is an entirely fictional narrative. In fact, that narrative was invented specifically to sell the Iran nuclear deal to Americans. It also bears mentioning that all Iranian presidential candidates are hand-selected by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, so any candidate is only going to be as “moderate” as the most “moderate” one that guy picks.
The point of the Mother Jones piece today, as much as it can be accused of having one – is to deride the Republicans for being against Obama generally and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R- Utah) specifically for holding a hearing on the matter of how the Obama Administration misled congress and the public called “White House Narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal.” Mother Jones declares the hearing invalid on its face because Chaffetz has called John Hannah to be a witness at the hearing. Hannah is a senior official at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which opposed the Iran deal according to MJ. He was also a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was, according to MJ was “deeply involved” in the Bush Administration’s use of bogus intel to sell the Iraq war.
Then, the MJ piece wastes a pile of 0s and 1s on retelling its version of the run-up to the Iraq War and then concludes that Hannah “does have experience in how a White House tries to create and promote a narrative. But in his case, it was a false narrative. Will he testify about that?”
And, at that point legions of brain-dead statists reading the article doubtlessly thought to themselves, “yeah! That’s right! Bush is the one who lies about foreign policy, not Obama!” and then shared the column on their newsfeed.
Clever apex-predators on this planet who read it would have noticed that the entire “point” of Mother Jones’ piece was resting on a foundation of logical fallacy, namely that of Tu Quoque, or “you do it too,” an inherently fallacious argument that seeks to rationalize one’s own objectively wrong behaviors by pointing out that others do the same or worse. Of course, this is probably why MJ declined to mention Chaffetz’s et. al.’s specific gripes about what the NYT Magazine piece taught us all about Rhodes and his relationship with Obama.
In addition to blurring the time-line of the negotiations, Rhodes was also tasked with spearheading the effort to sell the Iran deal to the public in general, and to congress. His go-to move, according to Samuels, was to paint the deal as a choice between peace and war; a card the administration and its sycophants played repeatedly in the debate over the deal – and itself an example of the false dichotomy logical fallacy. There was no reason then, and no reason now to suspect that if the deal had fallen through, we’d presently be at war with Iran.
He was also responsible for trying to manage other aspects of the sale of the deal. On January 12, 2016 Iran captured American sailors and their patrol boat near Iranian territorial waters. January 12 was also the date of the president’s State of the Union Address. Rhodes tried to keep Iran’s capture of the sailors out of the news until after the speech, but CNN reported it anyway. Samuels, who was with Rhodes in the West Wing that day, recalled Rhodes being irritated at the “breakdown in message discipline.” Yes, in America today the “free” and “independent” press doing its job is called a “breakdown in message discipline.” Orwell would be stoked.
The “echo chamber” that Rhodes speaks so proudly of creating in the Samuels piece, and referenced briefly in the MJ piece today, was Rhodes’ effort at getting a bunch of “arms control experts” who were anything but to take over social media in support of the deal. These “experts” then became the “source” for countless “clueless” reporters, Rhodes proudly recalled in the Samuels piece.
“We created an echo chamber. They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.” Rhodes was quoted by Samuels as saying. “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned debate, after which members of congress reflect and take a vote, but, that’s impossible.”
Well, if anything, one has to admire the width of Rhodes’ cynical streak. Yes, politicians are typically too damned dumb to be trusted with anything important. However, the appropriate reaction to this fact can’t really be to deceitfully concentrate more power in fewer hands. That, however, appears to be the legacy Obama and his administration are endeavoring to create – that of the most dictatorial and least transparent administration in American history.
So, for those keeping score at home: Mother Jones says the republicans are bad because they’re going to hold a hearing on being misled by the president on material facts and in the process call a witness who was part of the Bush-Cheney team that got the US into the second Iraq war. Mother Jones conveniently leaves out the real, material gripes raised by the Obama’s critics on this matter and hinges the validity of their complaint on an argument that is objectively fallacious. And, their legions of adoring statist drones will eat it up unquestioningly. And on the other side, self-styled conservative Americans will be up-in-arms over reports that a question asked by a Fox News reporter of an Obama Administration official about the timeline of the Iran nuclear negotiations was ham-fistedly edited out of an archive video.
And few, if any, will take away the lessons here that are actually important. Those are, in no particular order:
Government lies. Always. No matter who is in charge, or which party.
Most Americans are unaware of the rules of logic and rhetoric, and are easily misled by fallacious arguments.
Politicians and their mouthpieces know that Americans are easily misled and routinely engage in the use of fallacious arguments and out and out lies.
Actual journalism is pretty much dead; nothing you read is without agenda or bias and therefore nothing you read is inherently trustworthy. Not even The New Mercury.
Well, actually, I’m a pretty straight-shooter. Still though, trust, but verify.