The subjects on this blog are mainly political and theological, but your ideas on other topics are welcome. My hope is that we can dialog honestly even if we disagree.. There are some previous posts on this blog. I will be responsible for them even though I may no longer fully support them.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lies Told and Believed

My mother was a strict disciplinarian.  So much so that I lived in dread of getting a whipping from her:  leather clothes brush, naked butt, leaning over the toilet.  Mom loved me I have no doubt; she said she would walk through fire for me, and no doubt she would--even though the necessitating occasion never arose.

Fear of punishment sometimes drove me to lie to her questioning: "Did you do what I told you not to do?"  My eight-year-old mind weighed the options:  (1) tell the truth (I had done what she told me not to do) and take the very painful punishment, or (2) lie and evoke the future wrath of God for lying.  Of course, I was not a very good liar and I only got away with it about half the time.

When I did not get away with it, I really got angry at her.  I rationalized to myself that I had told the truth (even when I had not) and then I would get angry that she would not believe me.  I was her son and she should believe me--even when I was not telling the truth.

I bring this up because of the many lies being told today on the political front; and the obvious position of the liars that they are telling the truth.

Look at these topics--which I believe to be lies:
  • Obama is a Muslim.
  • He is not a citizen of the United States.
  • The Health Care Reorm Act includes "death panels"
  •  the government is taking over health care
  • we are losing our freedom
  • we need to take our country back
  • the current administration is raising our taxes
I understand that those who perpetrate these lies think they are true (or they deceitfully mislead the gullible for selfish gain); and whatever I might say about any of them would just be a lie to them.

When we hear someone make some statement, the test of truth has become, "do I agree with it?"  If we don't  agree, we often lower our level of trust for the speaker, our sense of their personal integrity diminishes.

If five of us were in business as partners, how successful could our business be if two of the five said, "No matter what you want to do, we are going to say "No"?   Today the Republican members of the Senate adopted the position that whatever the Democrats propose to reform Wall Street and the banks, the Republicans will oppose it.  They have also said, whoever Obama nominates to the Supreme Court, they will oppose that person. 

Two considerations:  first, if we do not enact financial reforms, the same practices that caused our recession will remain in play.  Second, the balance of the court will remain about the same as it was if Obama appoints a liberal jurist (which he probably will).  The real fight will come if Obama gets the opportunity to make another appointment and nominates a liberal in the place of a conservative.

Remember this:  this current court voted 5-4 to allow corporations to donate to political campaigns in such a way that will diminish  the importance of individual donations.  Though this may give comfort to the right wing, it is very scary to me.

One last word:  whether it is ignorance or deceit that fuels the false statements of the right wing, a larger danger looms.

Have you seen signs held by the Tea Party demonstrators:  "Armageddon is coming", "Take Back our Country",  "We came unarmed, This Time", "Clean Your Guns and Have Them Ready", "Obama is a Nazi Socialist".

In a speech given today, President Clinton said, We want to promote disagreement and dialog; but, be careful the words you use.  Remember what you say enters into a vast echo chamber and those words resound across this land and fall up the ears of the serious and the delirious, those who are well-connected and those that are unhinged.

An acquaintance sat down at the dinner table last night.  The first thing he said was "Obama is a Muslim".  I told him that was not true.  Obama's father had been a Muslim, his mother was a non-believer who had a Ph.D  degree (in anthropology?).  Obama has been a member of a Disciples of Christ  (this was a mistake, it should have read:) United Church of Christ in Chicago before the pastor of that church became embroiled in controversy. 

I spoke the truth, as I know it.  Long ago I gave up lying to avoid unpleasant consequences.  But, my acquaintance had been told this by an influential person, and I doubt very seriously if he believes me.  Lies told by friends have  power.  Corrosive and corrupt power.


  1. The church Obama attended in Chicago was the Trinity United Church of Christ. I don't believe he was ever a member of a Disciples of Christ church. The two are worlds apart.

  2. "the current administration is raising our taxes"

    If this is a lie, then someone please call White House adviser Paul Volcker and set him straight. Volcker said as late as April 7 that the United States may need to consider raising taxes to control deficits. Volcker (from what I've heard) is one of the most respected financial minds in the world. Not only did Volcker suggest a value-added tax might be in the cards, but also suggested that a carbon or energy-related tax may become necessary to bring the budget back into check. I think, without too much difficulty, one could find other hints that taxes might be on the rise soon to begin paying back the enormous amounts pegged to the relief package.

    "the government is taking over health care"

    This kind of surprised me. Does the Internal Revenue Service count? The primary federal bureaucracy responsible for implementing and enforcing national health care is the Internal Revenue Service. You better have health insurance of some sort, or the IRS is poised to levy a fine on you. That sounds like government involvement to me.

    The one thing I like about Obama has done for America is put us on a course to put a man on Mars by 2030. The Space Shuttle is old equipment. Moreover, the new initiative will create jobs, jobs, jobs, but even more, it will mean an unbelievable surge in technology which will have far reaching benefits in medicine, education, and making our lives better. I have always been pro-space, and pro-NASA.

    You go, Obama!

    On the other topics:
    "Obama is a Muslim." Who cares? I don't think he is, but if he was I wouldn't care.

    "He is not a citizen of the United States." This is a non-issue in my books. I say he is, so there.

    "The Health Care Reform Act includes "death panels" I have to laugh at this one. I refuse to think our Congress would vote on a bill that included death panels for American citizens. If it turns out I'm wrong, I'm going to be really pissed.

    "We are losing our freedom." I've never had much freedom, so I wouldn't know. It doesn't seem that we are any less free. Now, that said, if the government puts the clamps on "talk radio" I'm going to shout "Hey!" from the highest mountain.

    "we need to take our country back" If you look back in history, the rallying cry heard in the colonies was not much different. I wouldn't worry to long about this stuff. To be honest, I feel pretty safe (if anything does happen) being in Boerne. If people can't spell or pronounce the town where you live, chances are you're gonna be pretty safe.

  3. Apologies to both denominations for the church membership mistake.

    Re taxes: I said the administration is raising our taxes. I said nothing about what may happen in the future. I hope two things happen re the deficit: (1) taxes are raised, (2) military spending is reduced.

  4. And, oh yes, the government has been "involved" in health care ever since medical personnel were required to be licensed. Involved is radically different from "taking over".

    Nonetheless, I do expect the gov't to eliminate or drastically reduce the control exercised by the insurance companies. I think a single payer system would be much better than the current system.