WHEN PEOPLE ask me, "So what's your New Year's resolution?" my
immediate answer is: To search for the truth and to write about it as well as
Why? Because 2003 was a year when our democracy was degraded by official
deception. These are some of the more egregious lies promoted by our
- We needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase
uranium from Niger, had links with al Qaeda, possessed weapons of mass
destruction and posed an imminent threat to this country (none of which turned
out to be true).
- We needed tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Giving new meaning to
compassionate conservatism, the Bush administration's tax cuts mostly
benefited the wealthy.
- Our economy (actually, corporate profits) is rapidly recovering --
despite the fact that homelessness, hunger, outsourcing of jobs overseas and
lagging job growth have widened the gap between people who can buy luxury
goods and those who can't make ends meet.
- We are safer now, even though commercial airplanes and ships anchored
in our ports still carry cargo that is not inspected for lethal weapons. Our
invasion of Iraq, moreover, has inflamed much of the Islamic and Arab world
and alienated our traditional allies.
- The military action in Afghanistan was an immense success.
Nevertheless, the Taliban have regrouped, Osama bin Laden remains at large,
warlords run the provinces surrounding Kabul and the new constitution appears
to do little to improve the legal rights of women.
- We are so committed to democratic principles that we must export them
to Iraq. At the same time, the Patriot Act has challenged some of our most
cherished civil rights and liberties at home.
- We need to reduce big government spending on health care, housing and
social services. But it's good economic policy to create the largest deficit
in our history by spending billions on the militarization of space, pre-
emptive wars and corporate subsidies.
To counter so much deception and hypocrisy, I'd like to salute just a few
individuals -- among millions -- who have refused to be silenced and have
dared to disentangle this Orwellian doublespeak.
In the mainstream media, a few courageous journalists -- Bill Moyers,
Robert Scheer, Paul Krugman, E. J. Dionne, Bob Herbert, Molly Ivins and
William Safire -- have used their public platforms to expose lies about the
Iraq war, to reveal the insanity of the federal government's economic policies,
to publicize the growing desperation of the poor and to defend our most
fundamental civil rights and liberties.
Kudos, too, to Jon Stewart, Al Franken, Michael Moore and Bill Maher,
whose humor helped some of us laugh during this depressing year.
I'd also like to honor Joseph C. Wilson, whose truth-telling about his
journey to Niger, at the request of Vice President Dick Cheney, punctured the
administration's propaganda about Hussein's purchase of uranium. Sadly,
someone in the Bush administration sought swift revenge by destroying his
A special toast to Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who refused to pretend she was a
cinematic heroine who emptied her rifle as the enemy troops closed in on her
company. Instead, she told the truth. Her rifle jammed; an explosion caused
her injuries; and no one beat her in the hospital.
And finally, I'd like to honor PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for
reminding us that real men and women are killed in Iraq. Every few days, the
NewsHour ends with a moment of silence during which the names, ages and
photographs of soldiers who have died in Iraq are displayed. (By contrast,
President Bush bans the press from covering the return of dead soldiers to the
United States and has done his very best to ignore the reality of these
These are but a handful of people who understand that our nation has
thrived because true patriots, regardless of the consequences, have been
willing to seek and speak the truth.
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle