Posts tagged ‘politics’

What is true?

I never said he stole money.

Well, the truth of the matter is, “I NEVER said he stole money.”

No, wait, I meant, “I never SAID he stole money.”

But really, I said, “I never said HE stole money.”

And so on.

Changing the word that gets the emphasis, the meaning of the sentence changes. It can change six times.

What did the person hearing it perceive? Perception is reality.

Suppose the hearer was a reporter with a bias against whomever said it. How would it be reported?Fake News

Before publishing their story, would the reporter have taken the time to investigate what happened to cause the subject to use the above six words?

If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, you remember Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post would not publish anything Woodward and Bernstein wrote without two corroborating sources.

Now, suppose you heard someone of importance use the above six words with NO emphasis on any particular one.

And suppose you had a personal bias against the “he” who may have stolen. We all hear what we want or expect to hear. Those six words would delight our senses and confirm our suspicions.

What is the truth?Truth

Can reality be relative to the perceptions of the hearer?

What about the speaker?

Whom do you trust to tell you the truth?

Recently I shared an item on Facebook from a friend. It was a link to a website and featured a headline expressing surprise that in light of what appears to be a popular tax cut, the opposing party announced plans to tout a tax increase in their efforts to gain influence in  congress in the 2018 midterms. It quickly provoked a comment from a real life friend of mine questioning the source. I asked why that would be important if the information turned out to be true?

To be fair, it has been my contention for over sixty years that all news outlets and media are biased. As polarized as the country is now, it’s hard to find a middle of the road source of information (notice I avoided the word, “news?”)

If you listen to or read readily available (notice I didn’t say “main stream?) information, you can rely on two things:

  1. It will be biased.
  2. Regardless of the bias, it will conform to the age old motto of news media, “Never let the truth interfere with a good story.”

Good stories sell.

Choose your poison.

Are we any closer to the truth?

In court, it’s long been commonly accepted that eyewitness accounts are unreliable.  When there are more than two, they seldom agree. Now, with the advances in video technology, is video tape trustworthy? I recently heard even the Zapruder film had been altered.

Can we trust online fact checkers?

My friends on the left like Snopes while my friends on the right prefer FactCheck. They both cite major funding sources as their reason not to trust.

What about a situation in which someone you trust throws you a curve? An old friend sent out and email to his list of friends.  I quickly identified it as a joke. It was masquerading as a newspaper article. Some recipients thought it was factual and replied with concerns for a professional who had supposedly been caught in a dalliance with a patient. He reports to his own amazement about half of the recipients thought it factual–despite the inherent absurdity.

Is the truth relative?

I’ve always appreciated the axiom that “perception is reality.” If how we perceive information is in fact what we interpret as truth, then whether or not something is in fact true, is like beauty.

It’s in the eye of the beholder–no matter the source.


[NOTE: Special thanks to my good friend Art Hoffman for suggesting this topic.]


A better way to deal with our political adversaries?

Book review: The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth by Aaron Barlow

I may be the worst person in the world to review a book about personal political beliefs.CultOI-CVR
Since 2001, I’ve been on a news fast.
No newspaper, no radio, no online news, I don’t even watch the local news on television.
For me, there is no news — it’s all history.
My interest in politics began to wane on November 22, 1963.
It never recovered.
I’m one of those who believe that voting is a waste of time because the top one per-cent of the one-percenters controls everything. Dare we call it conspiracy?

Some of my ilk believe that we’ve been screwed since the income tax passed during Woodrow Wilson’s watch. My generation has never seen a year go by that our military wasn’t engaged in either a war, skirmish, conflict, whatever. Our military always has someone in harm’s way.

On second thought, I may be the ideal reviewer for this book.
I believe we still have a chance.
But, in order to avail ourselves of that chance, we have to bridge the chasm between the increasingly polarized opposing ends of the political debate.
Yes, I’m an optimist. Maybe I’m an anachronism. Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe it’s too late. I hope not.

In the Godfather-Part 2, Michael Corleone said, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” It’s good advice for anyone interested in politics. If you don’t know why your opponent believes what he does, how can you understand him? How do we build a bridge across that great divide? We must create a path to the point where the bridge can be built.

A path is formed by laying one stone at a time. Aaron Barlow has given us an important stone to lay. In his most recent book, The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth, Barlow offers readers an unbiased examination of the root causes of America’s retreat from reason, understanding, and acceptance in dealing with our political adversaries. Too many people have, for too long, taken the easy way out and cast inflammatory remarks across the aisle and turned a cold shoulder towards the opposition. Who is the opposition?

Barlow takes a new look at identifying the contestants. Rather than the more commonly considered North-South divide, he looks at what he considers a neglected force, East-West.
Consider the contrast in what he labels the “secular-liberal East coast elitists” with the rugged, self-reliant explorers who moved the boundaries of the country Westward. Furthermore, his research makes a solid case for his argument that today’s political movements (and their resulting divides) are based in cultural roots as much as current events and environmental factors.

What do Andy Taylor, Jed Clampitt, and Daniel Boone have to do with today’s Tea Party?
What is the cult and also the myth referred to in the title?
How does “individualism” relate to “anarchy?”
Which ethnic group can be derided at will anywhere in this politically correct country with no negative consequences?

William Safire asked in his book, Freedom, “How much individual freedom are we willing to give up in order to say we live in a free country?” Conversely, Barlow asks, “How much of our personal accomplishments are we willing to admit come from submerged support of family or government in order to claim we ‘did it on our own?’”

Barlow, who describes himself on FaceBook as “very liberal” and I (FB description “apolitical inactivist”) have something in common. We both believe it can be done.

If enough of us reach out to the other side, walk the path, and build the bridge, perhaps one day, rather than send vitriolic epithets to those who think differently, we can join forces and deplore those who refuse to be open to understanding others.

The Presidents Club

My second novel, The Presidents Club, will be officially released on Amazon Tuesday, Nov. 19.
It will be available as an e-book for Kindle and soon will be available for Nook.
Already seeing some reviews coming in.ThePresidentsClubFinal2 Watch for a blog soon on how the series title was selected.
Since it features characters from both my first two books, I’m going with, “The Barry-Hixon Conspiracy.”

To support the Tuesday release, my blog this weekend in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop showcases

eight sentences from TPC.

“For Whom Did You Last Vote” can be found HERE.

%d bloggers like this: