Pants On Fire

17 08 2016

When you’re a liar, a person of low moral fortitude, really any explanation you need to be true can be true. Especially if you’re smart enough. You can figure out a way to justify anything.” ~ Samuel Witwer

Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani spouted this doozie yesterday at a Trump rally in Youngstown, OH… “Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”

Wow… wait a minute… damn. But no one paused, and the crowd went wild.

So I said to myself, “Self… this MUST be sarcasm, because he seems to forget the main event that gives people a reason to know his name.”

This blog post began as an attack on the GOP, highlighting another stunning example of the ineptitude of Donald Trump and his team. My question was going to be, “Has Donald Trump’s propensities to lie and pander to his audience become an airborne virus, affecting the entire team?”

But as my ideas started to coalesce, I began thinking about the larger issue – everyone’s propensity to lie, and accept the lies presented to us. I’ve touch upon this in a previous post, but I’ll try to expand here.

When I was a young man, one of the worst things you could call a person was a LIAR. It was an insult that cut directly to the core, and usually ended up with someone receiving a punch or two. Over the years it became less derisive, bandied about with equivalent terms like “cheater” or “bull shitter”.

You’re a liar. Uttered so matter-of-fact… with so little emotion.

One of the frequent statements I hear and see on social media is, “All of the politicians lie.” This is definitely true. The existence of websites like FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com support that argument, or why would we need them?

liar-liar-pants-on-fire-your-pants-are-actually-on-fire-400x303It became bothersome to me in the primaries, when both Republican and Democratic candidates were wielding the word like a sword. But when the accusation was offered, no proof was required. That’s a lie. All of these wannabe leaders have embraced this willingness for lying by degrees – fibbing, or trying to be honest, or their brilliance of using the lie to make a point. Okay, he’s not the “founder” of ISIS, but you know what I’m saying… wink-wink…”

Seriously?

The statement by Giuliani is just a microcosm of American politics. The Republican side will say that this is a just a sound bite, part of a larger speech where he talked numerous times about 9/11. Or maybe it is a mistake… an error in the math. I’m predicting numerous excuses, and attacks on the media for highlighting this blunder and not focusing on the real problems in the United States.

I’m guilty of this as well. As an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, I have frequently referred to his PolitiFact Scorecard, that currently has a range of 4% “Truth” to 19% “Pants On Fire” (there are four more levels in between, which is hilarious). I’ve touted Hillary Clinton’s scores in comparison (22%, 2% respectively). They are better… but why should any of us settle for anything less than 100% truth? I know some of the subjects are complex, but anything they say is really just true or false, right?

Nope. Clearly, I’m wrong. And it’s not because candidate statements require room for latitude. It’s because we allow it as an electorate. We demand the truth, but along party lines. Red demands the truth from Blue, and vice versa.

In a perfect world, it’s either a lie or it’s the truth. Why do we accept this huge middle ground, instead of giving it a huge middle finger? What if we demanded the truth from both sides, would we get it?

And what if we demanded it from each other? Now I’m wondering about John Langan’s PolitiFact Scorecard…

Damn… That’s too many questions. I’ll shut up now.





On Politics, People and Gray Areas

22 02 2016

“He’s a gray area in a world that doesn’t like gray areas. But the gray areas are where you find the complexity, it’s where you find the humanity and it’s where you find the truth.” —Jon Ronson at TED2012

GrayArea

I’d love to say that the above quote was about me, but the author is describing what he terms to be “a semi-psychopath”. I can live with that, because I’ve been confused lately… struggling with gray areas. And not just the ever-increasing acreage on top of my head!

Areas of gray… I just don’t know. It’s been bothering me for weeks now. There have been questions in my head that I can neither qualify nor quantify. Looking at a thesaurus… “ambiguity”, “open to question”. I’m getting close. “Debatable”… that could be it. Although, the word “debate” has been terribly overused these days.

Two months ago I wrote a blog post about Donald Trump, and I was tough on him – there was pretty much nothing gray about paralleling him to Adolf Hitler! I haven’t softened my stance… if anything Mr. Trump continues to provide more examples confirming my assertions.

But I really should take this opportunity to thank the Donald for igniting in me a new awareness of politics. I have never been this interested in a presidential election so early in the process. Trump has done this service to the country in two ways, with supporters delighting in his views and people like me looking forward to the next crazy ass blurb to leap from his mouth. But in spite of this, he is the front-runner for the GOP nomination… a clear dose of reality for me and my silly little blog!

There is not one iota of gray in Donald Trump – his beliefs and policies are dead right, and if you disagree you are dead wrong. And that makes you a loser, or a liar. No gray areas there, thank you very much… and most of the other candidates aren’t much better!

But let’s get back to my boggle. I’ve realized my failure to accept the existence of ONLY two options – the perceived right and the perceived wrong – is the issue I’m wrestling. I’m hard pressed to identify any friends, relatives or candidates that I agree with completely, on every level. The consideration for some people of only an A or B solution eliminates gray areas, rendering compromise impossible.

Look at some of the buzzword battles we concern ourselves with today: Rich vs Poor, Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life, Gun Control vs Second Amendment, Apple vs FBI… just to name a few in the news. All can inspire passion depending on what side of the street you reside. The worst battle is Democrat Blue vs Republican Red, where the possibility of compromise and achieving a positive result is growing more and more elusive. And few conflicts in my lifetime require more time and scrutiny than Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter, the poster children for two sides not interested in conversation and solutions. With many “colors” speaking so loudly, that poor gray area has no voice and – ironically – is getting killed.

gray-areaThe amount of people who now only consider one of two choices is continuing to grow. I’ve had several conversations with friends – in person and via social media – that have basically ended like this: “If you don’t agree with me about (insert issue) then we can no longer be friends.” Sound familiar?

I completely disagree with several friends regarding the Second Amendment and Gun Laws. I consider some of them to be smart people, and I respect their opinions. So I listen and discuss, and/or read what they have to say. Solutions are in the gray areas.

I readily agree that I can be opinionated, but no more than most people. I also try to admit when I’m wrong. I may disagree with people on some issues, but I am not ready to terminate relationships because of it. If we are friends or family or whatever, I’m trying to respect your opinion out of the gate.

Listening to the politicians frame the dangers of our world – terrorism, death, illegal immigration, too much government, etc. All of that is nothing compared to ignoring the gray areas of opinion, and the cost is the end of opportunities to learn.

That’s too large a price to pay.