Forget the truth. Forget morality.
Was Thomas Jefferson really an infidel and a drunken anarchist? His political opponents thought so, and they said as much. Jefferson's political opponents spread the word that if Jefferson was elected, "our wives and daughters will become victims of legal prostitution!" They believed that a Jefferson presidency would bring an onslaught of murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest.
Dirty tricks in American politics should be judged not by whether they are moral or true, but by whether the individual dirty trick achieves the desired result.
Example: In 1988 George H.W. Bush pounded the nails into the coffin of Michael Dukakis’ presidential hopes with the Willie Horton ad. Efficiency rating (0 to 10): 10.
Example: Davy Crockett accused Martin Van Buren of wearing women's corsets. Efficiency rating: unknown.
Example: Colin Powell told the members of the U.N. that Saddam Hussein had WMD. They believed him, as did many Democrats and journalists. Efficiency rating: 10. Bush/Cheney achieved the desired result, war with Iraq.
Example: Watergate. Efficiency rating: 0. Watergate was a humiliating defeat for the perp, Nixon, and his gang of advisers and thugs.
Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney of paying no taxes for 10 years. It could be true, it could be false. There is only one way to prove or disprove the accusation. One way only. Reid's efficiency rating (to date): 10. Like a hungry but foolish trout, Romney took the bait. Every Republican politician and pundit took the bait. The talking heads on both sides are popping and crackling like fatty bacon in a hot frying pan.
Let me start my own politicized rumor: Harry Reid said that his source for his accusation of "alleged" tax evasion was a Bain investor/stockholder. Could there be a Bain investor/stockholder among the upper echelon at the IRS? Has Reid seen Romney's tax returns?
The right has 95 percent of the rabble-rousers, and they are good at what they do. The left is short on rabble-rousers, and short on tough talkers like Harry Truman and Teddy Roosevelt. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is a left-wing rabble-rouser. I admire his dry, mocking style. A more reserved rabble-rouser is straight-talker Bernie Sanders (I-VT). And now we have Harry Reid (D-NV) forging the way for the timid left. Even President Obama is too timid for my tastes.
Frank Bruni (NYT, Aug. 5) labels all political dirty trickery an "unbecoming, corrosive game." Bruni gives no credit to the potential political efficiency of Reid's dirty trick. After more than 200 years of American-style political dirty tricks, Bruni naively asks, "Do one tribe's antics justify the other's?" This political season, the right is all antics, no substance. The debates will be void of substance because there will be no dialogue, just controlled Q & A. The right's antics are reaping increasing political power. Is the left all-in this dirty game, or not? Harry Reid is setting a necessary example for the members of his party. This ain't no beauty contest. This is the 2012 no-rules cage fight.
In Paul Ryan's recent CBS interview, Ryan stated (about tax returns): "I'm going to release the same amount of years that Gov. Romney has. But I got to tell you Bob—two, I'm going to be releasing two, which is what he's releasing. What I hear from people around this country, they are not asking where are the tax returns. They're asking where the jobs are. Where's the economic growth?"
Here is my response to these misleading statements:
1) Of course he is releasing just two years. If he released more then two there would be even more pressure on Romney to release more then his forthcoming two years.
2) In his hearing from people around the country, these "people" are likely his Republican followers, which he has already bamboozled.
3) As far as these "people" wondering where the jobs are and about our economic growth, why do you and you fellow Republican politicians keep sabotaging our economy with NOT passing President Obama's jobs bill? Our economy is recovering but would, of course, be doing better if the Republicans would have worked with Obama on creating jobs.
4) And lastly, we STILL want to see more than TWO years of both your and Romney's tax returns. You are not off the hook. Don't think with you entering the campaign will sidetrack this most important issue. If we can't see how ethical you were in paying or avoiding taxes, how can we believe you want to close tax loopholes in the future on multimillionaires?
For someone like me from a country colonized and exploited so long by the British, it came as insult on injury to see the Olympic Games in London closed with a white band marching forward onto a stage the whole world was watching, garbed in martial tunics, singing "We will rule the world." The problem with the Brits is they remain so nostalgic for an empire that has largely ceased. But where they are clever is in realizing how much of America and Canada and Australia at least are paying for images of imperialism as showcased by their long-obsolete monarchy.
[Re: Guest Editorial, “Gun Rhetoric Fires Blanks,” Aug. 9-15] Three things are certain: Mass killings will happen again. And again. Even if both sides got everything they wanted.
If the left got Euro-style gun control, we would still have them. Canada still has them. They are much fewer and farther between, but they still have them. Mexico has very strict gun control, and it's worse than here (with some help from our guns). Even China has mass stabbings and hackings with deaths in the double-digits. Never underestimate the ability of evil to improvise, adapt and overcome our best intentions. We might get fewer shooters and more bombers. If jihadis can build bombs in their huts, American psychos can build them in their kitchens.
If the right got fewer gun-free zones and more moles who could whack back, would it make things better or worse? Jeanne Assam made things better in the New Life church shooting, but she had prior law enforcement training. Mark Wilson was just a regular guy in Texas who pitted his pistol against a nut with an AK. Mark was killed, but he did make things better, too, not worse. Charl van Wyk was just one guy with a pistol in his church in South Africa when he drove off killers armed with AKs and grenades. A slim chance is better than no chance.
Heller v. DC said "the people" have an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense that is mutually inclusive, not exclusive, with the collective right of the "well-regulated militia." The left used emanations to find privacy, the right to find self-defense. The penumbra that covers abortion also covers arms. You reap what you sow.
The type of arms the militia needs to secure a free state are not the type of arms the people need for self-defense.
While a case can be made that semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines are protected arms, that case gets weaker with every massacre. They are not needed for self-defense. The average civilian and law enforcement shooting involves two to four shots fired at distances of less than 20 feet.
Most people don't know there are hundreds of thousands of legally owned, but severely restricted, real full automatic machine guns in private hands. They have only killed a handful of people since they were restricted in 1934. Semiautomatics that accept high-capacity magazines should be similarly restricted. It's time to admit their risk to public safety exceeds their benefit in securing a free state.
I'm with you Joe: Lets do some realistic talking and maybe we will get some realistic results.