Point of View Columns

Truthspeak 2014

In 1984, George Orwell’s dystopian novel, there is something called “truthspeak”. This crowd management doubletalk was meant to guide the public in a direction that always favored the ruling class. While 1984 is a work of fiction, thirty years after 1984 “truthspeak” has been elevated to a malignant art form particularly in the rhetoric of the Teapublican right wing of the right wing, particularly when it comes to President Barack Obama.

This week’s news reports that President Obama’s approval rating is now at 41%, the lowest point to date during his presidency. Such low polling numbers would seem at first to be counterintuitive. The economy has been improving throughout his entire presidency, the slow pace of that recovery being further evidence of the devastation brought about by the would be Pirates of Wall Street and their enablers in the Bush Administration. Unemployment is at its lowest point since the Great Crash of 2008. And it was the stimulus strategy of the Obama Administration that literally saved millions of jobs along with the American automobile industry.

These are facts that should increase, not decrease, the approval ratings of the president, any president. And there is more. The housing market has improved greatly during the five plus years of the Obama Administration, and a country that was in two wars, bleeding blood and treasure by the minute is now extricated from the Iraqi death trap and is on its way out of the gory mire that is Afghanistan. And despite repeated calls from Teapublican chicken hawks, President Obama has kept this country out of war in Syria, Libya and (to date) the Ukraine.

The Obama Administration supported the challenge to the odious so-called Defense of Marriage Act and with it being overturned by the United States Supreme Court this country is now several steps closer to something resembling equality and humanity. And it was the Obama Administration that led the struggle to pass and implement the first universal healthcare system in the history of the United States thereby giving this country the tools to finally have a healthcare system that is on a par with the healthcare system of every developed country on this planet.

These are all fact that should increase, not decrease, the approval ratings of the president, any president. But, of course, President Obama is not any president. In an unprecedented act of near treason, the leaders of what would soon be the Teapublican cabal met on the evening of President Obama’s inauguration to plot his failure as president, not caring what damage would be inflicted on the American people in the process.

Since January of 2009, the other part of this cynical strategy has been to simply lie about President Obama and his policies and initiatives at every possible opportunity. Using the “truthspeak” theory articulated in 1984, the Teapublicans have preached that the truth is a lie and that lies are the truth.

Using “truthspeak” the Teapublicans have told their adherents that President Obama is not a citizen of the United States. They have been told that the stimulus package did not save millions of jobs even as they elbowed their way to the window of the U.S. Treasury to get stimulus checks for their districts and jurisdictions. Teapublican “truthspeak” states that the Great Crash of 2008 was not that bad and that President Obama should not get credit for what has been essentially a cyclical recovery.

Teapublican “truthspeak” preaches that President Obama is “weak” because he has not needlessly committed American combat troops to wars in which the American people do not have a direct interest. Teapublican “truthspeak” states that President Obama is “lazy” even though the evidence illustrating the activity and productivity of his Administration is crystal clear – despite Teapublican obstruction in Congress.

And, perhaps the biggest lie of all, the Teapublican “truthspeak” machine has continuously stated that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster for the American people even as millions of Americans are signing up for healthcare. They continue these lies even as the American healthcare system is finally being overhauled and pulled and pushed into the 21st century.

The declining ratings of President Obama are visible evidence of the power of “truthspeak” and a victory for lies and mendacity. And that is truly a shame.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 28, 2013

The evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court this week is the most racially damaging decision by that Court in exactly 117 years – almost to the day. Meanwhile the end of the DOMA as we know it has been a cause for justified celebration but it is celebration that should be muted given the near death of the VRA. Finally, given the precarious health of Nelson Mandela President Obama’s trip has a somber tinge but it does provide yet another opportunity to put the spotlight on what is good about Africa these days.


In May of 1896 the United States Supreme Court dishonored itself by confirming the legality and constitutionality of racial segregation in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. For the next 100 years almost every Supreme Court decision on racial matters has been part of incremental progress.

Now, in its most recent ruling the Supreme Court has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, one of the pillars of progress built by the civil rights movement of the modern era. Using sham analysis to mask the obvious intent to disenfranchise black Americans and other people of color, the majority on the court has disgraced itself and desecrated the memory of all of the American heroes, black and white, honored and anonymous, who worked and struggled and died so that civil rights could become a civil reality in this country.

The majority of the Supreme Court should be ashamed of themselves but they are not. They will continue to wrap themselves in the self-righteous literal translation of the Constitution whenever it is convenient and suits their damnable purpose.

Somewhere in the depths of Hell Strom Thurmond, the Ku Klux Klan, Lester Maddox, John Stennis, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and the rest of the members of the unrepentant American racist terrorist movement are celebrating.


The signing the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996 was one of the more regrettable aspects of the presidency of Bill Clinton. This law was obviously unconstitutional and was a legislative expression of pure prejudice.

Seventeen years later DOMA has been dismantled by the Supreme Court. While the outcome of this case should have been inevitable – the ScaliaAlitoRobertsThomas wing of the Court has proven itself capable of trampling even the most basic of rights.

While there are twelve states and the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is now legal, that means that there are 38 states that still need to come to the realization that the right to love and care for someone is not something that should be subject to legislative rule or permission.

Back to Africa

As noted, the precarious health of liberation icon Nelson Mandela casts a somber light over President Obama’s trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

While our prayers are with Mr. Mandela and his family we should not that President Obama’s trip does provide the American media and the American business community with an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of Africa, not only in the visited countries but throughout the continent.

Business expansion, technological progress, increased democratization and gradual but steady improvement of living conditions are all characteristics of large parts of the African continent.

We have to hope that this message about the “other” Africa will resonate long after President Obama returns to Washington.

Have a great weekend!