Sorting Through Party Propaganda



Although I'm a registered independent, I must join those who take issue with Don Castleman's portrayal of Senator John Kerry's voting record on various military weapon systems. Indeed, variants on that propaganda have been floating around the Internet at least since last February, when this disinformation was reportedly dispensed in a Republican National Committee research briefing.

The underlying facts are quite different. All Castleman's citations concerning military weapon systems stem from three "no" votes by Sen. Kerry on huge omnibus Defense Department appropriation bills, two in 1990 and one in 1995 -- two of the three votes were not on actual bills, but on House-Senate committee reports on such appropriation bills. These bills typically include everything but the kitchen sink, and there are many reasons why legislators might take issue with them.

Ironically, these bills included several weapon systems that Dick Cheney -- then Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush -- testified that he opposed as "weapons that don't fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets." Both Cheney and the elder Bush opposed funding several of these programs, including the AH-64 Apache Helicopter and the M-1, B-2, F-14 and F-16 aircraft programs, in public testimony and in the 1992 State of the Union message.

It's hard enough for voters to focus on truth in today's vitriolic election processes without having to sort through deliberate distortions and contrived propaganda coming from either party. It seems fruitless to hope for higher ethical standards nationally in the current political environment, but perhaps locally we can do a better job of sorting out the facts.

There are various non-partisan websites that do a pretty good job of separating fact from these fictions, and I would urge Don and others to screen information, especially if it sounds too good (or bad) to be true, before passing it on.

Don Crowley, Payson

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