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Resisting the scientific ignorance of the GOP

In Education, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Technology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I am the product of science. Well, the fact is, we are each a product of biological and chemical chain reactions that create human life. But, in my case, I was far more dependent on science than most people. I was born with myriad congenital defects that, without scientific research, would have otherwise left me, at best, hopelessly disabled, and at worst a lifespan of maybe 2 years.

While I do credit the faith of my doctor and family for their determination to see me through it all, I am far more grateful to the men and women who did the research and applied the science to my situation that saved my life and gave me a hopeful and healthy future.

Science is responsible for most things that we take for granted in modern, 21st Century first-world life. From penicillin and the electric light to computers and advanced cancer treatment, without science fact, our lives would be incomprehensibly different.

It’s for this reason that I cannot seem to grasp why so many Americans today turn a deaf ear to the scientific facts placed before them. Various representatives of the current presidential administration are continually making statements ignorant to known scientific facts, followed blindly by their supporters. None of this makes any sense.

So why do some people today seem to ignore scientific fact? That’s a very good question and one worth exploring. I have a hard time believing that people are just, well, stupid. It’s far more likely that a certain ignorance of scientific fact is a personal choice, based, I believe, on the following.

Trump and other Republican ignorance of science remind us of a child who doesn’t want to hear something a parent is telling them so he covers his ears.

First, I think that the average person just doesn’t understand most of the scientific information to which they are exposed. I’m not suggesting that people are stupid, but that most people simply aren’t trained or educated to understand the scientific jargon.

I wouldn’t expect the average person to have any clear understanding of factual climate change data. And once that data is encapsulated and truncated, even “translated” for use in a news broadcast, some of the information could be lost or distorted in some way.
Scientific data also lends itself to some degree of interpretation by the observer. If someone hasn’t the background to interpret the information being shown to them, it’s unlikely that an educated conclusion will result.

Next, comes politics, and a concept I find completely insane. What I can’t understand here is the staggering number of intelligent, educated people who follow the party line so blindly as to completely ignore facts in favor of rhetoric.

Just going along with what party leaders are doing, whether right or wrong, is certainly one of the main causes most of the trouble in America’s political system. Where are the intelligent, educated, GOP members on the inside who could stand up for scientific fact and be the voice of reason in an otherwise incomprehensibly ignorant administration?

It’s as if they were all whisked off to some bunker to be kept quiet until properly brainwashed to be the robotic mouthpieces of the administration defending whatever destructive policy is next proposed.

Finally, and again this is my own observation of people rather than an official survey, it’s my opinion that science too often conflicts with religious beliefs. Many people choose to what I have come to think of as pick and choose what science they decide to believe in.
Try to keep in mind that all science is the search for fact, not truth. Truth should be left to religious studies and philosophy. Scientific fact is not something you get to “believe in.” It either is or it is not, there’s no middle.

Why would we, the most powerful, supposedly the most technologically and socially advanced country on the planet, completely ignore an area of study that has saved the lives of millions of people throughout history in favor of political ideology?

Makes one wonder, if the White House and Congress can ignore scientific fact on things like climate change and health care, then what other important facts are they ignoring in something like national security?
Yes, the interpretation of scientific data can be inaccurate sometimes because fallible humans are involved. But flat-out ignorance of that information is inconceivable.

 

Gery Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Greene Co, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

If Trump gets nomination, I’m done with GOP

In Business, Economy, history, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOBecause I’ve always tried to get people to think about my subjects from more than one perspective, I’ve rarely shown my personal political leanings within the wording of my columns. In fact, I so often take opposing views in any given article, after any given Deer In Headlines column is published, I could be called, in the same day, a “bleeding heart liberal,” and a “right wing conservative.”

But, here it is, for the record and publicized for the first time anywhere – I am a registered Republican. (If there was a pool going somewhere, I’d like a cut please.) I am certainly not, however, what you might think of as a typical modern conservative. In truth, my considerations often demonstrate a far more liberal position but I’m also frequently sickened by the level of hypocrisy in both parties.

So, I should explain, “why Republican?” Well, I didn’t go with the GOP from any ideological position. Many years ago, during the first presidential election for which I was old enough to vote, I had to choose a party in order to participate in the primary election. At the time, I knew more about the Republican candidates, so I picked that one. Really scientific, wouldn’t you say?

No, it wasn’t the best way to choose, but I was 18 and had to make a fast decision. As the years went on, I always avoided just blindly voting the party line and chose whichever candidate I thought was best based on the facts at hand. So, my party affiliation really didn’t make much difference. But today I think that affiliation does matter, possibly more so than any other time during my life.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Donald Trump has managed to do exactly what he set out to since the day he announced his candidacy for president. However caustic and cartoonish his campaign, The Donald has ripped through the fabric of the Republican Party and scattered the conservative base.

My problem here is that any group that would allow and encourage a self-aggrandizing buffoon like Trump to climb to the top of the party has obviously lost its way. Poking around in the dark for the lesser of who cares, people have desperately searched for a non-politician. Sadly, they think Trump is that person. Still, Americans need a good leader and someone who understands the complexities of the world stage on which America is just one player.

To be an effective president, Trump would have to work on a team, listen to more knowledgeable advisors and make decisions based on the best interests of the people, not just to get his own way. I believe, as do others, that Trump is totally incapable of this behavior.

As Trump plowed through the rest of the party making his way to the top, he has repeatedly shown he is not ready or personally equipped to be that kind of leader. As a businessman, he comes across more like a dictator. In other words, it’s his way or nothing. Ironically, Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Obama for the very same behavior citing executive orders.

At this point, I need to be clear about something else regarding my political leanings. I don’t like Hillary Clinton either. She’s a proven liar from a deceptive family and a political insider. Bernie Sanders isn’t much better. His blathering on about so-called democratic socialism is idealistic nonsense lacking even the most basic economic foundation.

So why come out about my party affiliations now? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Over the years I’ve watched in disgust as this party that revels in moral values seems hypocritically more bigoted, angry and hateful than ever. A fact made more clear every time Trump opens his mouth to denigrate Muslims, minorities, women or whomever he’s attacking that day and is met with unbridled cheering from ignorant followers.

The party of Lincoln would certainly cringe if he were here today. In recent times, the GOP has argued harder for the right of someone to own an AR-15 assault weapon than for women and minorities to be treated equally. Honestly? It’s just embarrassing.

Trump’s shocking rise from joke to frontrunner proves that the Grand Old Party is nothing of the kind. It has become, instead, little more than another corporate sell-out run by rich, old white guys with followers who seem to thrive on hate, bigotry and fear.

A Trump nomination will be the last straw for me. When it happens, although I disagree with a great many liberal policies and ideals, I will march myself to the board of elections and change my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Since, I tend to think for myself rather than be a political lemming, I’d obviously rather go “independent” but I wouldn’t, for two reasons. First, the idea of an “independent party,” is an oxymoron. You can’t be independent about something if you’re just going to follow a group. Secondly, I still want to have an effect in the primaries.

Many people are angry about the direction of the current administration and the country and I sympathize. I have many friends, family and business associates who are Trump supporters for those very reasons. And for them, I am simultaneously surprised and disappointed, but I still support them and their right to choose the candidate that best reflects their views.

So, I certainly hope these revelations have not put you off of reading my work, but I felt this was important enough to make a stand and let you, my readers, know where my head is in this election. In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing more about what happens next in my political participation, so stay tuned to Deer In Headlines.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Preventing student debt will take work

In Economy, finances, history, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn recent months, democrats seem more upset than ever about the level of student debt, with President Obama leading the charge to loan forgiveness. But as tuition continues to rise for state students in a still struggling economy, why has nothing been done to limit massive salaries paid to state college administrators, many near the million-dollar mark, while students struggle to pay skyrocketing fees?

Constantly up in arms over the greed of wealthy conservatives, liberals seem to maintain a blissful ignorance toward millionaires who help to push their own political agenda, such as college administrators. But limiting the salaries of these academic fat cats could help to ease the financial burden on the schools and the students.

According to the salary database of the Ohio State University, for example, former President E. Gordon Gee “earned” a whopping, $859,566 in 2013. And that’s only the cash salary; this figure doesn’t include any sort of benefits or bonuses. You could easily surmise that his nearest underlings earn somewhere close to that, at least in the middle six figures.

What could a state employed “figurehead” possibly do to be worth that kind of money? After all, it’s OSU, not Harvard. That’s simply ridiculous, no matter how many letters are stacked up after his name.

IMG_3970Universities aren’t alone in this outrageous salary model, however. According to a December 2015 report by the Dayton Business Journal, Sinclair Community College President Steven Johnson now earns a base salary – without benefits – of $371,454.

Why are the taxpayers shelling out nearly a half-million dollars for a community college president? Keep in mind that these people are not teachers and most high-level administrators continue to receive raises and bonuses even when the schools are making budget cuts everywhere else.

Still, while it could help lower tuition slightly, even if the salaries are cut back in top-heavy administrations, it wouldn’t do much to help people actually pay for school. College students need to take on some of the responsibility to limit their own debt, in ways that no one wants to talk about because they’re politically incorrect.

First, here’s a thought just way out of left field – get a job. Most of the people I went to college with were not from wealthy families and many of the loans we’re talking about today didn’t exist three decades ago. So, they did what I did, applied for every grant and scholarship available and worked as many as three, part-time jobs to help cover the costs. Some did take out small loans, a semester or two at a time, and paid them back as they went.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when “work” became such a bad word? A student who works while in school gains a better sense of responsibility, learns how to handle money more efficiently and is more self-sufficient. That also makes them less likely to return home after they graduate because they aren’t afraid to take jobs to make ends meet while looking for their career spot.

Another major sticking point of the American university mentality is that you have to finish your degree in no more than four years. Those who don’t hit the mark may end up at the bottom of the placement pile, labeled as disengaged or unmotivated, and that’s just ridiculous.

Common sense suggests that if it takes longer and the student works during their higher education years, future employers will benefit from applicants with more real-world experience and the worker is more likely to excel faster and make more money.

The simple fact remains that the American economy is still wounded, and all of the handouts in the world won’t change that. Students today would be far better off to work while going to school. If that means they don’t get done in four years, so be it. In adult life, you don’t always have it easy and you need to take responsibility for yourself.

Loan forgiveness is treating the symptom, not the disease. With the foregone conclusion that they’ll never have to pay back a student loan, there is simply no incentive for people to try to stay out of that debt in the first place.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

Public perception and the dusty GOP

In Economy, history, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on July 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

 

DIH LOGOIt seems the republican field of presidential candidacy is bursting at the seams, not to mention getting a little ridiculous. At the time of this writing, there are a dozen GOP candidates hoping to sway voters, and the RNC, before next year’s primary season, while only four democrats have officially tossed their hats into the ring.

At this point in the game, it’s anyone’s race. Until the democratic field shakes out, it’s unlikely there will be many republican endorsements. Before that can happen, supporters need to see is how their favorite conservative candidate stands up against the opposition.

Most early candidacies are a function of money – how much they have, how much is coming in and where to spend it for the best return on the investment. Media is critical to political perception, and expensive, but, at this point many of the candidates will have to spend time doing the old grip and grin just to introduce themselves to key voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa. It seems old school in a world of nonstop social media, but it’s necessary.

1280px-Republican_National_ConventionThere are too many GOP candidates with little to no name recognition and that will be an obstacle. Keep in mind, most of the country had no idea who Barack Obama was until the eleventh hour and, two terms later, he has repeatedly made history. But, can the Republican National Committee change the perception of the GOP as the tired, dusty party to something more progressive?

Dem forerunner Hillary Clinton has experience, but not in the same “boots on the ground” role as Jeb Bush or one of the other candidates who have been state governors. Still, just having been a governor isn’t enough to guarantee any sort of mileage in a presidential campaign, especially when accomplishments in office have been lackluster, to say the least.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, for example, has announced that he will officially launch his 2016 White House bid in late July. To hear Kasich describe it, he’s earned his seat at the table having been single handedly responsible for Ohio’s economic recovery following the recession. But, economists have been clear that Ohio’s recuperation is consistent with the rest of the country, resulting instead from federal stimulus packages, short term interest rate reductions and bail outs.

Assuming respectable advancement in the primaries, the candidates could experience secondary problems based on their choice of running mate. While the announcement comes much later in the game, everyone is thinking about it now and those interested in the job are quietly knocking on the door behind the scenes.

Hitching a ride on Kasich’s coat tails as a running mate would most likely be Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, an obvious choice for the short list. Although he served in congress for a time, DeWine’s name recognition is relatively useless beyond the borders of the Buckeye State.

If Kasich chooses DeWine, he would probably also have to deal with conservative backlash for the AG’s many liberal-leaning policies, the least of which is gun control, including his sponsorship of legislation against assault weapons and personal firearm ownership. Though carefully kept out of any published information, DeWine is also rumored to have been a democrat before changing sides in order to make a political name for himself in Ohio’s largely conservative Greene County. If true, that could further impede any national conservative support of a Kasich-DeWine ticket.

But even if the GOP candidacy field narrows, republicans are still stuck with the public perception as a “rich white guys club,” despite the fact there are two minorities on the list; an African American, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and a woman, former business exec Carly Fiorina. Historically, the GOP has great difficulty connecting with younger voters and minorities and, so far, nothing has happened to mitigate that problem.

Republicans are largely seen by young voters as bigoted, gun-happy, greedy and stuck in the1950s. Until one of the many conservative candidates manages to offer an alternative to that perception for a mass audience, Americans might be looking at another term under a democratic administration.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Border crisis will become a local issue

In Charities, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Local News, National News, Opinion, sociology, Uncategorized on July 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

DIH LOGOUnless someone is a true bigot, it’s hard to imagine why people don’t want to help the immigrant Mexican children being sent across the border without family, without supervision. But wanting to help is not the same thing as having the resources and infrastructure to do so properly, in a way that meets the ultimate goal which should be to see that the children have better life in America than they had in Mexico.

Unfortunately, people are so focused on the problem of the immigration process, they forget about what will happen once the kids get into the United States. Without a plan, infrastructure, money and personnel, it’s unlikely that these children will be living in anything less than squalor once they arrive and are processed.

Our government should do everything they can to help these kids, even if that means the best thing to do is to send them back home. Why? Because there are some vital questions still as yet unanswered. For example: Where will they live? Who will pay to feed and clothe them? Who will pay to educate them?

Each night in the United States, an estimated 611,000 people are sleeping homeless and nearly 50 million go hungry, according to the charity groups National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Feeding America. As unbelievable as it may seem in the most powerful country in the world, organizations such as these struggle each year to find the millions of dollars needed to provide food and shelter for people already living here, a great many of which are children.

(Photo NY TIMES)

(Photo NY TIMES)

When hundreds of immigrant children become thousands, they become refugees, not immigrants and caring for the kids will eventually land squarely on the shoulders of local government. The White House and congress might clear the way for an easier method of entry or grant them all amnesty once here, but then it’s the problem of Main Street U.S.A. to care for them.

Sure, there will be federal money – probably from new taxes that will overburden a still recovering Middle America – but it will be pennies per child, per day, leaving the remainder to be covered at the local and state levels. The current welfare system cannot handle such a fast influx of need, especially while still recovering from the stress of the recession.

Some local leaders, however, are welcoming the immigrants with open arms. Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley recently stated that she would welcome the immigrant children to the area. It’s clear that Mayor Whaley, who previously served on the Dayton city commission, does not realize that what happens in Dayton affects the outlying communities of the Miami Valley region, both socially and economically. None of these suburban areas have the kinds of resources necessary to handle such a massive issue.

As expected, the democratic mayor’s comments drew a firm response from area republicans, led by Congressman Mike Turner. Turner sent a letter to President Obama signed by him and six local area leaders which states, “We are writing to express that our community does not support Mayor Whaley’s proposal and to further express that our community does not have the available resources to support such a proposal.” It goes on to point out that, while they are sympathetic to the issues related to the border crisis, the community is simply not in a position to offer assistance.

There is speculation that Whaley’s comments were little more than a publicity stunt, aimed at getting a sound bite on national news, which she accomplished without question. Others believe her intention was to gain more favor with Dayton’s large and ever-expanding Hispanic population. Only the mayor knows why she really made such a sweeping statement without discussing the concept with other local leaders.

These sentiments are playing out across the country in a constant battle. While there is an overwhelming feeling of obligation by most to help children and families fleeing poverty and abuse, there must first be resources in place to properly handle the situation without making it worse.

 

Jamestown Comet Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

 

Hobby Lobby ruling sets religious freedom in business

In Business, Charities, history, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on June 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

DIH LOGOOn June 30th, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s suit to be exempted from the ObamaCare mandate forcing companies to provide contraceptive coverage to employees, including the controversial Plan B, or “morning after,” drugs. Many conservative business owners equate these drugs to abortion since they’re designed to terminate a pregnancy within hours of conception.

The primary argument to the court is whether the owners or management of a corporation has the same rights to freedom of religion as an individual. The Obama administration has already set exceptions for various religious non-profit organizations, which, other than their non-profit status, are structured similarly to their for-profit counterparts.

In March of this year, according to TheHill.com, the U.S. House of Representatives, “Approved the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, H.R. 1814. The bill allowed people avoid buying health insurance under ObamaCare if they could cite a religious reason. People seeking an exemption would have to include sworn statements in their tax returns explaining their objection to health insurance.” In effect, all they needed to get out of paying the federal healthcare mandate (tax) was a note from home.

A further question is whether there is a fundamental business difference between a non-profit corporation and a for-profit corporation? The practical answer is, no. Charity or not, a corporation is created to protect the individual operators from legal responsibility with regard to the business. Most non-profit filings are for tax and donation purposes, a process that seems outdated and inefficient with the advent of mega churches and multi-billion-dollar evangelical organizations.

uscourtIn America, there are countless religiously-focused, non-profit corporations worth millions more than some of the largest for-profit businesses. The Christian television network, Daystar, for example has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a “church,” according to NPR.com news. Celebrity, sometimes politician evangelist Pat Robertson and the late Billy Graham registered with the IRS as “religious organizations,” making them exempt from most taxes. All they had to do was file disclosure papers.

According to available records, NPR.com reports that the top three evangelical television broadcasters – Christian Broadcast Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar Television — have a combined net worth of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. It is unknown whether the corporations that operate these broadcasters have filed for religious exemption under the healthcare reform laws.

The question persists, however, that if the only difference between a for-profit corporation and these mega non-profits is an earnings disclosure, why have the distinction at all? Certainly there are for-profit companies that give away millions of dollars in charitable funds each year but still have to comply with the law in every respect. Why then are religious non-profit organizations exempt from anything, much less a controversial healthcare mandate that has American small business struggling to comply or face bankrupting penalties?

The court’s latest decision with regard to religious exemption could have long-reaching implications, and not just in the healthcare arena. Giving a for-profit entity the same constitutional protections provided to non-profit religious groups could cause a flood of lawsuits ranging from tax law to equal employment regulations. Once again, major non-profits have million-dollar earners at the top, private jets, limousines and pretty much every other extravagance thought only to exist in for-profit American business.

If a church – any church – can make a case for religious freedom from legal mandates, why can’t a business owner cite his or her – or their – own religious beliefs for the same purposes? Is the constitution not written for everyone or does it exist specifically to meet the needs of religious groups so they can avoid taxes and dodge the law at their convenience?

This argument poses a great many questions and there will likely be countless more as ObamaCare reaches further corners of commerce. But, if that’s not enough to chew on, here’s another one. What happens if a Muslim, Jewish or non-Christian group requests exemption as well? Will the Christian right fight against their having the same protections?

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer and contributor for WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program. More at www.gerydeer.com.

 

Obamacare: Politicians lie to cover bad legislation

In Economy, Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, Uncategorized on November 19, 2013 at 5:03 pm

DIH LOGOHow ever the White House and the Democrats want to spin it, President Obama lied about the Affordable Care Act – and he wasn’t the only one. But it’s “his” plan and legacy that are on trial now.

Denying that he ever said the line is ridiculous and just makes liberals look worse. It has been fact-checked repeatedly even by liberal news media. The first appearance of the empty promises came at a town hall on August 15, 2009 when the President said, “I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health care plan.”

Less than a year later, he said essentially the same thing at a speech on March 25, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Speaking of those who were skeptical and cynical of his health reform President Obama said, “They’ll have to finally acknowledge this isn’t a government takeover of our health care system. They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor, they’ll be keeping their doctor. You like your plan? You’ll be keeping your plan. No one is taking that away from you.” If you’re curious, none of this is out of context and full texts for these speeches are available at the White House website.

Without beating a dead horse, this is thoroughly inaccurate or, as the Democrats would say about a Republican president, he lied. There is no caveat stated in any of these remarks related to grandfather provisions or referring to existing medical plans that must meet some set standard required by the new law. It says, very clearly, no one would lose their existing coverage.

In a live address July 25th, President Obama urged Americans to pressure congressional leaders to move toward a compromise. (AP Photo)

So how can anyone say he did not lie about it? Making excuses for lying politicians – on either side of the aisle – does not an honest man make. It’s no secret I’ve never really been a fan of this president, nor the last one either for that matter. But regardless of your loyalties, to deny that he misled the public is just feigning ignorance. He didn’t misspeak or stumble on his phrasing, and leaving out a vital piece of information is a lie by omission, so Dems need to stop trying to defend it.

The Affordable Care Act is a badly written piece of legislation that was pushed through to meet a political agenda rather than to benefit the population as a whole. Overall, I agree with the concept that we need some way to cover those people who cannot afford health care. But at the same time, those already paying their own way shouldn’t be punished by having their current policies systematically cancelled just to meet a set of arbitrary requirements established to force enrollment in the government’s new insurance monopoly.

Speaking of monopolies, wouldn’t it have made sense to have something in the law requiring premium caps and policy cost regulations? What about some kind of legislation that would control the pricing of health care services and keep the cost lower in the first place? One would think our government is more concerned with the expensive cost of a pack of bubble gum than the outrageous price of a critical medical test.

Lobbyists from the medical and insurance industries are extremely powerful, far more so than the average small business owner or individual health insurance consumer. Since most legislators are in the pocket of some major lobbying group, it would be financial suicide for them go against anything as massive as the insurance industry.

The only practical solution to this issue is to correct the problems within the content of the Affordable Care Act; not by presidential mandate, but through the legislative system. Congress needs to re-open the letter of the law and grab an eraser. Force the insurance companies and hospitals to lower costs and let people keep their insurance. Bad legislation only gets worse and wastes taxpayer dollars instead of more efficiently allocating that money to more productive purposes.

Voters can’t handle the truth

In Business, Economy, Education, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on October 9, 2012 at 9:03 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

Politicians distort the truth and exaggerate facts to elicit effect from an audience. All of them do it. The idea of any candidate being open and honest is not only unbelievable, but would likely bring the American political system to a dead stop.

No one is going to be completely honest and the determination of whether a politician is lying is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately die-hard fans of a particular candidate will insist that it’s only the opponent who lies. The hard, cold truth is, they all “lie.”

In the Star Wars film series, mentor Obi Wan Kenobi warns Luke Skywalker that many of the truths we cling to in life depend greatly on our point of view. Nowhere is that a more appropriate statement than in the political ring.

Often, distortion of the facts is an effort to cover uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. No one could possibly provide an answer to every problem and, rather than appear weak or uninformed, a candidate has prepared a neutral response to counter his or her lack of a solution. Voters should learn to read between the lines and determine whether this behavior is a character flaw or the nature of the job.

Sometimes a candidate, in a moment of either clarity or misstep, will betray his or her thoughts. Mitt Romney’s off-the-cuff remarks about the 47-percent of people who will vote for Obama because of the president’s predilection for endorsing entitlement programs is a perfect example of what can happen when a candidate’s true thoughts come to light.

Political candidates are under intense, constant scrutiny. Every word, every step, every mispronounced name can affect their overall image and subsequent performance in polling. Even misspeaking can be inferred as a lie and bring a campaign crashing down at any moment.

No matter how carefully words and phrases are chosen, however, they can still be used out of context to paint a candidate with a single brush stroke. Generally referred to as “sound bites,” the act of hacking up entire speeches into 30-second snippets has become far too common and can lead the listening public to the wrong conclusions.

Along the same concept, political advertising should be focused on informing the public about the intentions of the candidate. Instead, the point of these messages is to tear down the other guy, discrediting the opposition to the point of exclusion. Millions of dollars are poured into these ads just so each campaign can go back and forth on television, radio and on the Internet, just trying to counter the latest round of jabs from the other side.

Print or broadcast, generally the ads follow a simple pattern. One candidate takes a stab at the opponent’s position on something which is then answered from the other side with an accusation of lying about it, followed by some kind of weak rebuttal. But who is actually lying? Once again, that may depend on a point of view.

Developing and keeping on track a strong platform is tough for a political operative in today’s 2-minute news cycle. Since the American voter tends to go on hearsay and emotional preference rather than fact, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a consistent message. Much of the time is spent on damage control, like the president is doing now after his lackluster performance in the first debate.

Still, whether or not a politician lies is almost irrelevant to the modern voter. Americans seem to be more interested in trivial issues than the larger picture, proven by how easily they are distracted from more important problems by garbage issues. One man’s garbage, however, is another man’s treasure; so once again, it’s back to the pesky point of view.

One thing is for certain – all politicians lie. Voters just need to come to terms with how much of that really matters and learn how to separate the facts from the rhetoric.

 

Has America Become A Babysitting State?

In Children and Family, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Health, Local News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, State News, television, Uncategorized on June 12, 2012 at 8:17 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

 

Did you ever wonder (thanks Andy Rooney) why we have so many laws designed to, “protect us from ourselves?” You know what I am referring to. Think about the laws requiring us to wear seat belts, no public drinking or smoking, fines for public profanity, mandatory motorcycle helmets, and so on.

With obvious exceptions, like distracted or drunken driving, very little of what we do affects anyone else. If I choose to risk my own death by not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle on the highway, who does that affect other than me? It may be incredibly inconsiderate to my family or the poor guy who has to clean my brains off the pavement after an accident, but other than that, who does it really injure?

Of course, I’m exaggerating here. You’d have to be a complete idiot to ride without a helmet – sorry bikers, it’s just plain stupid – but it’s still your own choice and it shouldn’t be up to the government to decide. It can be argued that it costs the taxpayers more money to cover the medical charges of a rider who’s had a head injury without a helmet, but that point of view can be hard to quantify. Applying the same logic, however, tobacco should be made illegal for the same reasons.

Some laws don’t protect us from ourselves but are actually in place to pacify the moral majority. For example, no alcohol sales on Sunday, no cursing in public, television censors and so on. Decency laws require that every television network maintain a department of standards and practices whose sole duty is to ensure that no one says or does anything over broadcast TV or radio prior to 10 PM that might offend the religious right.

Many anti-drug laws, like those against the use of marijuana, are in place, not because of health risks but to satisfy the moral right. Tobacco use has immediate and long-term detrimental effects but is a regulated, taxable commodity. Marijuana, on the other hand, is said by experts to be no more dangerous than tobacco but is still classified as an illegal, Schedule I hallucinogen. Why? There are at least two possible explanations.

First, the obvious reason – hallucinogenic drugs are just bad. There’s no other way to say it. Long-term use of any substance like this is going to eventually be a health hazard. But the other reason is more sinister. The tobacco industry is huge, powerful, and wants complete control over your toxic addiction without competition from Mary Jane.

A great deal of money goes into congress from the tobacco big-wigs. They will always argue against legalized marijuana because it would eat into their profits, and therefore less cash would be available with which to line the pockets of public officials fighting their battle on Capitol Hill.

Understand clearly that I am in no way endorsing or advocating drug use. I think it’s idiotic and makes one stupid and unemployable. I’m simply pointing out that we are living amidst a realm of hopeless double-standards, of which alcohol and drug use is only a small example.

I don’t know whether these pointless and expensive regulations come from genuinely well-meaning people trying to help keep others from making dangerous mistakes or if they are the result of controlling, politically-motivated individuals. Either way, it really seems like we’re moving further into a babysitting state where the government controls everything down to what size soft drink I can buy at 7 Eleven.

There’s nothing wrong with regulating public issues – second-hand smoke is a health hazard to those around the smoker and the dangers of drunken driving are a no-brainer, but what these individuals do in their own home should be their own business – as with the pot smoker, the junk food junkie, or the watcher of reality television.

Personally, I think Americans spend far too much time worrying about what our neighbors doing and not enough time minding our own business. If they really want to regulate something to benefit the public, they should start by outlawing and reality television. Clearly the Kardashians are detrimental to society as a whole.

 

 

Empty Promises Headline 2012 Presidential Campaign

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on June 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines
 

Remember when good oratory skills and talk of “change” at least seemed like a good start? The concept might have made a great slogan for candidate Obama’s election run, but there’s very little about it that would apply to his presidency. But would Mitt Romney have been able to achieve any greater success given the same circumstances? Probably not.

The president’s dismal job performance numbers and Romney’s complete lack of connection with those bringing home anything less than a seven-figure salary leave both of them a mediocre choice in November. So far, even the media can’t figure out what to say about these two.

In recent weeks, some of the biggest campaign headlines focus on relatively pointless issues like how much Obama is outspending Romney in advertising or the former governor sending hecklers to an event where the president was campaigning. It’s all fluff and no substance – again.

If something doesn’t happen to really define these candidates, the country may see a repeat of the 2008 election when many Americans were just tired of “W” and hisWashingtoninsiders. Most were happy see him gone but neither did they want a left-wing, America-downing liberal or even another Republican crony. So, who better to put in the White House but an untested, junior senator from Illinois?

As they say at Wrigley Field, “Swing and a miss.” Instead of the hopeful changes promised by the Obama camp, the country slipped deeper into recession and near depression-level unemployment which, incidentally, has yet to return to pre-Obama numbers.

But wait, there’s more. Challenging the president this fall is another millionaire – yes President Obama is a millionaire several times over – the Massachusetts Mormon, former Governor Willard Mitt Romney. Here’s a man so rich and out of touch he seemed in one speech to actually believe that every housewife has two Cadillacs and a summer home inCalifornia.

Why is Romney so out of touch? It might have something to do with that silver spoon sticking he always seems to be gagging on. Despite his profession of “humble beginnings” and being a “self-made man,” he attended Stanford, Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, and finally Harvard.

Given that kind of background, it’s highly unlikely he has any idea what it would be like to have to stand in an unemployment office or apply for some kind of welfare assistance after a layoff. But financial extremism is a problem for both parties in this election.

While the liberal left whines about conservative campaign funding from big business, the president is filling his war chest with least as much from the millionaire actors and studio execs inHollywood. Well, at least both parties are getting their cash from people who make a living off the public while pretending to be what they’re not.

 It’s likely that the 2012 election will come down to two things – the economy and jobs – something neither candidate has much to crow about. However, no one can really be congratulated for that. Many experts suggest that the economy would have eventually recovered in a natural progression without sinking billions of tax dollars into the problem.

However it plays out, in order to reach the voters, Obama and Romney will each need to stop the mud-slinging campaigns and tell the public how they will make things better. So far, all they’ve done is rail against each other. Without some real substance and a plan to get behind, the undecided voter will be stepping into the polls simply to choose the lesser of “who cares.”