Serious-minded people

Let me start out with the following firm belief of mine. I wish others who think winning at any cost gives politicians a free pass, would heed this belief of mine. I am not in favor of name calling, but I would say if people in or running for office want to be taken seriously, they need to be serious-minded with their comments. Saying obvious untrue things is not a step down that path. Full stop.

I am not naive enough to think politicians will stop lying altogether. To get elected, they will continue to overstate or even invent their role when good things happen and understate or blame the other side when bad things happen. And, if things aren’t too bad, many will even tell you it is bad to drum up fear. If things aren’t good enough, they will search for ways to make them even better sounding.

What bothers me greatly is when I see elected officials say or write things I know are not true, and even worse, many likely know it is not true as well. When I see such tales being told, it leaves me with two options to believe – either they really do not know they are saying untrue things or they are purposefully lying. Some politicians, like the former president, are so untruthful, they may not know where the truth stops and lying begins. As my colleague used to say in a voicemail greeting, “Always tell the truth, as you don’t have to remember as much.”

Unfortunately, we have allowed politics to become such a zero-sum game, meaning “I must win and you must lose,” we lose sight of the bigger picture. If nothing gets done or things get done to further the causes of a strident or well-heeled few and not a greater good, we all end up losing. When we make issues of import political, dividing people into two camps to play these inane zero-sum games, we all lose.

People may not be aware of this, but the PR folks who publicize these combative court cases for TV shows scour the cases around the country and find cases they can blow up into a big deal. Some of the cases present themselves as they bubble up, but some are found and honed for this purpose. Politics has become the same way. The PR people scour the country for news they can make into wedge issues. This is why many of us have never heard of an issue until it is presented to us with a bow that this is a huge problem.

So, once the wedge issue is created, the sides form and the lying begins in earnest. And, once the lying gets into the minds and keystrokes of others, it is extremely hard to erase that mindset. This is why we must be assertive in calling out untruths. In short, people who are in your tribe will believe BS if it makes the other side look bad.

This is misinformation and disinformation. This is right out of “1984” where the term “doublespeak” was created by George Orwell. But, let’s call it plainly what it is – lying.

When a US Senator says you can catch AIDs from the COVID vaccine, then when confronted says it may be true, that is lying.

When a former president says at least a dozen times that the tariffs imposed on China will be paid for by China (being refuted each time by economists that consumers pay the cost of tariffs), that is lying.

When a now US Congressman says he was not told by his wrestlers when he coached that the university doctor was fondling them as he did with over a thousand athletes (many after he was told), when six of his wrestlers said they did on the record, that is lying.

When a former president says you can keep your own doctor to sell the roll out of the new healthcare plan, that is lying.

When a former president says COVID is a hoax, or it will all go away soon when people start dying, while placing people in danger and ignoring what he is being told, that is lying.

When a US Congresswoman says a prominent Jewish family is using lasers from space to cause wildfires and profit from them, that is lying.

When a former president says he did not have sexual relations with his intern when he obviously did, that is lying.

When a former president hires over 1,000 attorneys before an election, naysays the process beforehand, and does his part to make it harder for people to vote by mail, then says the election was stolen from him an assertion he has failed miserably at proving, that is lying.

We need to hold our elected officials to account. We are owed the truth. And, when they don’t tell us the truth, we need to take action by voting for someone else. We need serious-minded people. The truth matters.

Doublespeak – Donald and his disciples

Donald Trump’s latest press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in her first press conference she would not lie to us. She then proceeded to emulate her boss’ untruthfulness. Last week, she said the US is the envy of the world in how we have handled COVID-19. That is not in the ballpark of being correct. That is doublespeak.

Per Wikipedia, doublespeak “is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms, in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning.”

“The term ‘doublespeak’ originates in George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ (Nineteen Eighty-Four). Although the term is not used in the book, it is a close relative of two of the book’s central concepts, ‘doublethink’ and ‘Newspeak’. Another variant, ‘doubletalk’, also referring to deliberately ambiguous speech, did exist at the time Orwell wrote his book.”

Back to McEnany’s statement, the US has less than 5% of the global population, but 24% of the global COVID-19 deaths. Americans are restricted in traveling to many countries as the world is appalled at our mishandling of the pandemic. Doublespeak.

The president has misinformed us from the get go, but he is now playing Pollyanna saying it will go away soon and is not that bad. That is doublespeak. He finally wore a mask at Walter Reed Hospital to see veterans, but disdained its use, except for one brief part of a factory tour. Failing to wear a mask is its own form of doublespeak.

An ABC/ ISPOs poll said 67% of Americans disapprove of his handling of COVID-19. 67% also disapprove of his handling of the racial injustice issues. He has demeaned Black Lives Matter, he has looked past the many diverse peaceful protests to highlight the few more violent ones, and he has used code words to demean Black protestors. Adding to previous racial remarks, he has fanned the flames of division through his doublespeak.

Now, he is trying to re-litigate the Mueller and Ukraine investigations as he fires or forces out public servants who testified under oath at great risk over their concerns, as well as commuting the sentence of Roger Stone and having his Attorney General whitewash Michael Flynn’s case after he pleaded guilty to lying twice. This is doublespeak.

Robert Mueller penned an op-ed that everyone should read. He reiterates what they uncovered and the guilt of Stone and the others. The Attorney General cannot whitewash Mueller’s op-ed like he did with The Mueller Report.

This president will be remembered for his corruption, deceit and denigration of the media, hard-working civil servants, the law, our allied relationships and American ideals. And, it is greatly disappointing that so many Senators, Congresspeople and staff have contributed to and abetted his doublespeak.

Doublespeak is not new to Trump. Five Trump biographers noted before the election Trump has a problem with the truth. A simple example is how he got his money. He has boasted he got a $1 million loan from his father. An analysis by financial reporters, published in The New York Times in the fall 2018, noted his father transferred over $400 million in various ways before he died to his son to avoid taxes. Doublespeak.

Finally, he boasts he built the economy, yet the truth is he continued it. When he was sworn in, we were in the 91st consecutive month of economic growth. It went on for another 38 months before the recession. So, taking full credit for the economy is Doublespeak.

Tin soldiers – a history lesson worth remembering

A day that lives in infamy can be summoned to memory with the words “Kent State.” If you are not familiar with this term, please Google it as it reveals what could happen today, by showing what did happen in May, 1970.

In short, President Nixon called out the national guard to keep a protest of college students at Kent State University in Ohio from turning into a riot. The dilemma is these “tin soldiers,” as they were termed in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s powerful song “Ohio,” were armed. So, when one of the protesters was alleged to have thrown a rock, a guardsman opened fire and was joined in fire by the other guardsmen. Four college students were killed and nine were injured.

Nixon is remembered mostly for resigning before he was impeached for Watergate (in essence running a burglary operation from the White House), yet his calling out the national guard on college students is a horrendous decision. To understand the magnitude, picture your child being faced down by the national guard.

I mention this today as during an interview with Margaret Atwood, who wrote the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she said totalitarianism first occurs when a leader has troops fire on protesters.

What scares many is the possibility of our current President calling the national guard on a group of protesters is not a stretch. It is also not a stretch for one of the armed militias that feel empowered by this President doing the same.

It is interesting that two dystopian books are going through a concerned revival. One is “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the other is “1984.” We need to be strident in protecting our rights to assemble and protest. We need to be civil in these respects, but it is well within our rights to question our leaders. And, we should not be shot at.