Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Truth Pays

Representative Joe Wilson was disciplined by the House today because he wouldn't apologize again. But this little dust-up with the President has illuminated a valuable lesson.

The story:
1. The President said something that was not true.
2. Representative Wilson said something that was true, albeit rudely.
3. The Health Care Bill has now been changed to include provisions Wilson had, twice previously, been unsuccessful in attaching.
4. Wilson's reelection campaign fund has now reached levels unprecedented in his State of South Carolina.

The Moral to the Story: Telling the Truth Pays.

Will it start a Washington trend?

We can only hope.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Civility or Truth?

"He lied" shouted Congressman Wilson, during the President's Joint meeting with the Senate and Congress last Wednesday. The head, of the Speaker of the House, spun.; the President's face seemed to darken with anger; he seemed to slightly, verbally, stumble and then went on with his speech. It was a memorable moment.

It was reported, the Congressman called the President to apologize for interrupting the speech as soon as the event ended. The White House accepted it with the admonishment that civil discourse must be used to solve problems.

I agree. I believe in civility and good manners. "Please" and "Thank you" are every day necessities. Respect for others is requisite to our society. People should not be interrupted when they are speaking.

But I do have a question. .....
Is dishonest political rhetoric a part of Civil discourse?
I suggest that it isn't. A lie, and half truths are included, in that category, is an insult, It is a verbal sucker punch. The person to whom the lie is told doesn't expect it and often is surprised by the audacity of the liar. They ignore the lie to maintain civility. Their act of civility allows the liar to assume: they are easily duped; too trusting to check the facts; or too foolish to think it necessary. Each political lie represents arrogant smugness and total lack of respect for those to whom it is told. Respect can not co-exist with lies; and without mutual respect there is no real civility.

There was much hand wringing by the press, and the major political parties the next day about the lack of civility in our society as demonstrated by Congressman Wilson and by direct extension, all of us little people. We had shouted down unprepared or prevaricating politicians at the rowdy Town Halls. We joined the march on Washington to demand honest responsive government from those we have elected. Our "perceived" lack of decorum and civility was duly noted by much of the inside the beltway crowd. Neither press or pundits seemed interested in the truth they were only concerned with civility.

But someone was dishonest. If the President's statement was true: Representative Wilson's was not. Somebody was not telling the truth. Would, or would not, illegal aliens be covered by the health care bill. The congressman claimed he had offered two amendments to preclude them. Both were voted down. Over the weekend the party in power announced that they would now add a verification of citizenship to the bill. We know who told the truth and that is important because.....

Truth is important

There are those who think the parsing of words is a game. Arguing over the meaning of "is" is clever and sophisticated. Those activities make money for lawyers, and provide cover for the dishonest. Crisp, clean truth gets hidden by evasions, clever language and planned omissions. Sometimes the labels of truth and lies seem corrupted. Right is wrong, up is down, and white and black have merged to gray. Maybe it's time to look for the simple truths and honor those who share that value and vote from office those who don't.

When the content of a bill, is hidden by complicated language, hundreds (if not thousands) of pages, and sold to the American people with lies, half truths, and obfuscated pork, it is obvious that those who sponsor it know, it has no merit. Yet it is offered and voted on as a solution for the latest generated crisis. And they do it all, with feigned concern, staged courtesies, and bogus sincerity. The belt way crowd calls it "civility". I call it politics as usual.

Hmmmm,........... No thanks. I'll take Truth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Liar, liar, pants on fire " the old playground chant shot through my mind as I listened to the President's Joint Address to the Congress and Senate, on health care reform. What triggered that flash from the past, was my memory of a town hall type meeting, held by President Obama, in July. May I share that with you.

A woman said her mother had been informed by her Physician that she would benefit from a pacemaker, but he was reluctant to do the procedure because she was 100 years old. They sought a second opinion. The second doctor was impressed by the woman's vitality and spirit, and in spite of her advanced age, he thought it was worth doing. The daughter continued, "My mother is now 105 and still going". She then asked the President if his health care plan would consider the "whole" person and take their zest for life into consideration.

She was told no. President Obama explained that would be too subjective. He explained that the most expensive health care normally occurs in the last year of life. He hoped under his plan the Physicians and patients, could be encouraged to look more towards the hospice program. Perhaps they should have offered her mother a pain "pill instead of a pacemaker."

For a moment I couldn't believe what I had seen and heard from his lips. I was amazed by the cold callousness of the suggestion that this woman's mother, a living, breathing, fully functioning person should have been denied the last 5+ years of her buoyant productive existence.

How could such a statement be made about someone continuing to live a fulfilling life? How could that be said to the daughter who loved her? What humane person would suggest that the opportunity to live, that she had enjoyed, should have been denied?I was incensed by the suggestion, that a pacemaker and a pain pill could be used interchangeably. It was not only an incredibly stupid statement but it also showed a profound lack of understanding of the issue.

My disbelief and shock had turned to anger. How dare this mortal man presume to put in place a program that would decide who should live and who should die, based on the demographic of age, and a cold and calculating value system? This had become a life and death issue for seniors.

Tonight he spoke with disgust of those who had claimed that health care reform would somehow "kill off the old people." There would be no "death panels" he declared. That is technically true.

No one has suggested there would be a firing squad at the 65th birthday party nor will we be forced to stand before a panel of judges who will tell us whether we live or die. But there is also the lie of omission.
President Obama, in that town hall meeting made clear his intent.
There will be bureaucrats who develop economic health care policies, based on demographics which will include age, and value to society. In addition Section 12;33 of the House Bill, demands government mandated end of life counselling at 65, and every 5 years thereafter, unless you are in ill health, and then it would be done more often.

Maybe, it could be considered "killing off" when people are denied knowledge/choice of treatments that would extend or improve their quality of life. Would it be "killing off" if Doctors are not allowed to do those procedures because the person is too old, too fat, too anything, that marks them as "of too little value" to society? Would it be "killing off" if the person, after government mandated counselling, decided their life was no longer worth living?

You can't "pull the plug on Granny" if Granny wasn't allowed to be plugged in.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Current political machinations remind me of the childhood fairy tale, The Emperors New Clothes. Remember, the Emperor, a proud, and arrogant man scammed by a trio of crafty tailors. They told him that they were in possession of a miraculous fabric. It's beauty would be obvious to him because he was such a great king, but anyone unworthy of their position would not be able to see it. As they mimed, holding and feeling the texture of this unique fabric, the King, who saw nothing, praised it's beauty and quality and quickly ordered a full suit of robes. He would not admit that he saw nothing; to do so would mean he was unfit to be king. The court watched as the tailors pretended each day to cut, fit and sew the new clothes. They praised the material and the tailors sewing talent to bolster their personal job security.
The day arrived for the Kingdoms' Great Parade. The Emperor, dressed by the tailors in the new garments, was flattered by all his court, as they each tried to prove their job-worthiness, complimenting the fit, cut, and fine workmanship of the new clothes fashioned from the mystical fabric. The King swaggered, as the parade started, to better show the elegant clothes he could not see. There was a stifled gasp as his subjects caught sight of their Ruler strutting, center street, clad only in his underwear. They tried to look impressed to hide their unworthiness for their positions. The Emperor waved and accepted their silent bows.
Then, a
small child, unschooled in court etiquette, said, "Mother, the Emperor has no clothes." A child has no job; he can't be unworthy of his position. This realization spread quickly through the crowd, with first a whisper and then a repeated shout "The Emperor has no Clothes","The Emperor has no Clothes".

The events of the last few weeks have exposed the modern Political Class, politicians, pundits, press and sycophants of Washington D.C, as was the emperor in the fairytale.
For years, like the tailor, they have scammed us, telling us that they work harder than we do,and must be more honored.
We believed.... and allowed them to raise their salary and increase their status at their will.

They told us that the complex issues they handled were beyond our understanding. We believed... and allowed them to pass bills and laws that curtailed our freedoms and increased the power of their incumbency.

They told us they could better spend our money for the things, we should want or need.
We believed... and they destroyed our personal dreams and budget priorities with taxes and fees to pay for things we didn't ask for, don't want, and many times are by designed to be hidden from us.

On those occasions when we began to murmur and complain about high taxes, unread bills and foolish spending they flaunted their degrees from prestigious schools, inside the beltway resumes, and influential contacts to convince, we little people, of their supreme wisdom and status. We believed... and stood by quietly while they squandered our treasure and trampled the rights of farmers to irrigate their land, people of faith to pray, and our states to determine their individual budgets based on the needs of its residents.

The more we believe in them the more incredible are their demands and behavior. People who break laws that would put the average citizen in jail, are confirmed for lofty positions. Those who can't pass a close scrutiny are quietly hired and given staff for powerful positions without transparency or accountability. In a time of deep recession, they ask for new jet planes, continued subsidies for a cafeteria, personal haircuts, postage, the best heath care money can buy, and funding for large entourages and growing staffs.

We little people, hone our budgets, fly economy class, choose items from the fast food value menu, cut our kids hair at home, do our own manicures, use email , drive cars that are older than the aging family pet, and have lost jobs or laid people off as the businesses we work for, or own, try to keep their doors open.

We believed what the Politicians, Washington insiders and mainstream press had told us. We believed because of our trust in our constitutional government and the integrity of the leaders we elected. In the reflection of our honesty, we believed in theirs. We trusted in the objectivity and honest curiosity of the press, to be our watch dog. They would be on our side, represent our interests, and do the research we were "too busy" to do. We were busy, we had a living to earn, kids to raise, and commitments to God and community to keep.

But then things changed. The press divided. They chose sides. The protection was gone. To get to the truth more than one report, of any given event, had to be heard. Newspapers became, irrelevant. We little people began to think questions and ponder answers. We discovered talk radio and cable news. We heard our questions articulated by the hosts and we watched as, those same hosts, who had dared to say, what we were thinking, were at first ignored, then called names and relentlessly harassed and vilified. We saw politicians from outside the beltway who had the audacity to think, talk, and conduct themselves as us little people do, made fun of, lied about and their vulnerable children mercilessly mistreated by the DC gang.

We no longer blindly believed.

We watched cable news and saw events as they happened and compared "our take" with the main stream press reports. We saw the truth and we began realise that truth could make us, again, free. It was hard to accept that we, like the Emperor and people of his kingdom, had been conned by the people we trusted.

The Emperor's clothing, like the atmosphere of Washington is woven of lies. The DC crowd is not better educated in common sense, or smarter by nature. They do not work harder, or make better decisions about how we should conduct our lives and spend our money than we do. Like the emperor in the story, every one has accepted the "politically correct" line.

The scam is over, we see them as exposed as the emperor in the fairytale when the child murmured the truth. "The emperor has no clothes." The lies are stripped away. We see, our leaders, and those who report about and serve then, as they really are, no smarter, no harder working, no wiser, no more honest or well intentioned than the American people they have asked to represent.

We no longer believe them: we know....."The Emperor has no clothes"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Little People" -- Big Power

I'm one of the "little people" a title that condesending politicians and political pundits (that's often an oxymoron) like to assign to all of us "lesser beings". We are also referred to as "Joe Six Pack," "the folks", and "the people in fly over country". We are the souls that don't live in the power centers of New York, Washington DC, or LA. We are the people who pay our taxes, raise our kids , and pray for our country in perilious times. We are the ones who voluntarily open our hearts and our thin, worn wallets when others are hurt or need help. I'm just one of many million hard working citizens, who believe in and work hard to live the American dream, and thank God for the privilege.

I suspect that those who will read my blog will be "little people" also. Unlike the media and elected leadership of our country; I do not pretend to know the interworkings of your minds or the desires of your hearts. I speak for no one but myself. I have no interest in minding your business or your money. I trust you to do that. Because I believe in you. I believe in us, "the little people".

I believe in our innate intelligence, in the goodness of our generous hearts, and the treasured values of our souls. I believe in our work ethic, our ingenuity, our conscience, and our common sense (which, by the way, is no longer common-- but that's for another day).

I believe that many of our elected "public servants" (another, subject for another day) have dismissed us as uninterested, too busy to pay attention, and "not too bright". Much of the media has the same view point. This has lead to an astonishing lack of respect for all of us who have supported them and an even more astonishing sense of entitlement for the powerful. That attitude must change. If it does not the American dream will turn into a nightmare.

Individually we can do little to effect that change but collectively we are unstoppable. The little people have build and sustained this country. We have been blessed with some great leaders, and some not so great, but it has been the unquenchable spirit of the little people that have kept us free and growing. We must tap into that spirit again: to become informed and take the time to let those who represent us know we care and we expect them to do what is RIGHT. Together we can make a difference.

Welcome to my blog.