Skip to main content

Billionaire Tom Steyer continues to make more of those TV ads, always starring himself, demanding impeachment.

tom steyer

The cable channels salivate when he comes to buy more air time. The ones with strong viewership that corresponds to Democratic Party registrants, anyway.

But the cable execs with the bloated compensation packages should be asking a fundamental question: are Steyer's statements garnering quick revenue at the cost of gross factual inaccuracies, and the harm that portends?

Because, if they are, the cable gurus should do demand the kind of fact-checking for their industry that they all suddenly want imposed on social media.

The cable channels salivate when billionaire Tom Steyer comes to buy more air time. The ones with strong viewership that corresponds to Democratic Party registrants, anyway.

Of course it's something they'll never do. As CBS chair Les Moonves reminded us about their coverage of Donald Trump during the campaign, it doesn't matter what's good for the country, as long as it's good for profits at CBS. Which the fat-cat execs with the big pay should discern as the reason why poll after poll shows the credibility of corporate mainstream media is in the toilet.

In his latest ad, Steyer uses Independence Hall as his backdrop. He says, "When our Founding Fathers met in this building in Philadelphia to adopt a Constitution, they had just defeated an invasion by a foreign power."

No, they hadn't. Oh, I know that's the set-up line, or really just the button-pusher, for the whole dog-and-pony show about "the Russians stealing our election."

Except it's going ever higher with a scaffold erected on sand. That's what happens when you're half right. Or, if you prefer, picking up the ball and running with it, without checking anything else. Like which goalpost is which, and the damage you can do by being wrong.

When our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia and adopted the Constitution, they had been empowered to fix shortcomings in the young nation's document of governing authority. That was called the Articles of Confederation.

By doing something altogether different than that, the whole bunch of them could have been arrested for sedition. They were, in effect, overthrowing the authority of the established government.

No foreign collusion, no foreign invasion. More a case of covering for the shortcomings of naivete and a measure of arrogance that hadn't anticipated things might not work out when your anointed leader thought it would be a breeze that didn't require getting in the trenches.

So just ignore everything that went wrong, don't perform a post-mortem, and hit reset. Sorta like the Democrats after the 2016 election.

As for Steyer's comment about repelling a foreign invasion, he would certainly say he is talking about the Americans defeating the world's most powerful army and navy when they sent the British Empire packing at Yorktown.

Except there's a problem. With the adoption of the Constitution, we are talking about a group of revolutionaries—largely the same ones who adopted the Declaration of Independence—who voted, once again, to defy and overthrow the established legitimate governmental system.

Granted, on that first go 'round, it was a system fraught with "taxation without representation" and imposed from across an ocean. But it was the way things worked then, and the whole world recognized it as legally empowered authority.

And the taxation imposed by the empire on its colonials wasn't predatory. It was needed to pay for administering those 13 colonies, plus the other ones in what would become Canada, and to provide for protection of all the empire's citizens there—the colonials—from hostile forces.

Of course, hostiles largely meant the Native Americans who, with no other choice, used force to stop continuous encroachment by British colonials onto Indian lands.

Taxation was more acute because the British Parliament and King had determined that British subjects at home should not be living in poverty because they were the ones paying for all that. Especially after just being stuck with the tab for an entire war that secured the North American colonies in something called the French and Indian Wars. Where George Washington first fought, and lost.

Overall, getting somebody else to pay for your empire's military adventures isn't new. Not much different than, say, all the victorious European powers who demanded the losing European powers pay them reparations at the end of World War I.

Or the Americans who demanded that Iraq give us their oil after we overthrew their government. Being that we were a foreign power that invaded them and interfered in the way their government worked by violently overthrowing it.

Except we used the sterile phrase, "regime change." Which included interfering in their election by running it the way we wanted and excluding some of their citizens from participating.

But you can cut to the chase about the fallacy of Steyer's statement by using only the example that he—well if he didn't exactly cite it correctly, he—used incorrectly as an allusion.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Our Founding Fathers never repelled a foreign invasion. In fact, they welcomed one, from France, as the key final factor in overthrowing British colonial rule. The colonial rule that had established them here in their prosperous colonies in the first place.

We could go on about the pattern of evolution of colonial societies. How exploitation and some degree of slavery enriches the mother country and convinces those benefiting that they are benefactors of the backward. Australia. South Africa. India. Pakistan. Rhodesia. Bikini Atoll. French Indochina.

Add to the list what will surely happen if our descendants colonize Mars. (Descendants, since our era leaves the indefensible legacy of abandoning everything else in favor of a perpetual warconomy, and all profits gravitating to the top marginal fraction who controls everything).

Sadly, it's inherent in our species. There's always a paternalistic patrician who knows better than everyone else. Who, having reaped riches, has the wealth to be certain everyone knows they are the fortunate recipients of superior reasoning that is saving them from ignorance. Whether a nation whose politicians have been bought, or an oligarch on a holiday of slumming. There's someone who has bought a soapbox and a big megaphone to reach the people.

And rewriting history to suit your transient agenda is fair game for them.

Baby Bush reworked the entire White House website to make every presidential hero a Republican, staring with George Washington and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Even though the first Republican candidate was John Charles Fremont in 1856, four years before Lincoln was elected in 1860.

If we called foul on that—and this reporter did, at the time—then how, in the name of intellectual honesty, can we give a pass to someone now, just because his power and money are coming from elsewhere on the political spectrum?

Mr. Steyer, the first repulsion of a foreign invasion was indeed the 'Muricans vs. the British Empire, but it was in the War of 1812.

It gave us the burning of Washington, D.C. (which doesn't seem like a bad idea, these days).

It gave us the iconic scene of First Lady Dolly Madison cutting the portrait of George Washington from its frame, so it could be spirited away to protection.

And, eventually, though not right away, it gave us a national anthem that's still the most warlike of any in the world. A national anthem, which, by the way, is a poem of difficult meter set to the melody of a horribly sarcastic English beer-drinking song of the time, "To Anachreon in Heaven." Which is why nobody can sing it sober.

Makes you wonder if the British sang it, as "Anachreon," while they were getting roaring drunk and burning Washington. Which would have been prescient payback after Washington's army stole the redcoats' favorite musical roast of the bumpkin colonials a generation earlier. That one was "Yankee Doodle," our first de facto national anthem, and one that's arguably still more appropriate.

Still, before experiencing our first hostile foreign invasion in the War of 1812—which we survived by the skin of our teeth?

We had already performed our own first foreign invasions in acts of war overseas war. There were our landings and occupations in North Africa, in the war against the Barbary Pirates. It's why the U.S. Marine Corps Hymn has that line, "To the shores of Tripoli."

There are numerous recent books published for the bicentennial of that war, including good ones by Frank Lambert (The Barbary Wars), Joshua E. London (Victory in Tripoli), and Ronald D. Ott (Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron). Teddy Roosevelt's book, The Naval War of 1812, has been republished by the Folger Library.

So, Mr. Steyer? Perhaps you should use some of your considerable wealth to buy a few history treatises. Or if you're spending all your money on TV ads, there's always the free public library. Because, really, you can't rely on the entire media to cover for you, just because the corporate mainstream cable channels are making a fortune airing your ill-informed propaganda.

And, given your obvious ambitions, your credibility should matter to you.

Even if their collective credibility no longer matters to the hopelessly predatory purveyors of ideological sheepdips, masquerading as apocalyptically blathering news, on cable TV.

We could, instead, have focused on the excruciatingly stupid snippets of ideological bludgeoning dispensed daily by the hugely overpaid hosts of cable's daily calls-to-meetin'. These tribal heads spin their incantations and lack only the witch doctor masks. I'm waiting for the lawsuit between Fox and MSNBC, as each claims the rights to name a show "The Daily Harangue." You can't even call what they do indoctrinations any more. They are too far beyond that, more akin to the megachurch televangelists who just pick up where they left off for the committed faithful.

Perpetual indoctrination or not, eventually somebody always says, "Wait just a minute."

But then, that's what ending net neutrality is intended to fix for them. Because the ones who can afford to own the soapboxes and megaphones, in the absence of those of us who reject selling-out to the corporate agenda or the company line, can profitably prevail in the short run.

larry-wines-175x227

It takes the fixated masses a while to notice that veracity is absent. But we're putting you on notice. It does happen.

Larry Wines