A Philosopher's Blog

Does Truth Matter?

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on October 8, 2012

truth (Photo credit: Erick-Pardus)

Most people believe that Mitt Romney won the October 3 debate and this entails that, in practical terms, he did win it. After all, one wins a political debate by getting the majority to believe that one has won. As such, victory is defined by the what people believe.

Romney and Obama were both accused of “stretching” the truth during the debate. The objective evidence indicates that both candidates intentional said things that are not true. Or, as normal folks would put it, they lied.

Those defending their man noted that this is the practice of politics. While this is clearly a case of the common practice fallacy (that is, attempting to justify a practice by claiming it is a common one) the general acceptance of this raises questions about whether truth matters in politics at all. In fact, one of the students in my ethics class asked me if an honest person could even be elected. While I do think that this is possible, I am not entirely sure that this view is well-founded. It might simply be a case of wishful thinking.

One thing I find fascinating about this lying is that both men obviously knew that their claims would be fact checked and that the results would make the news. Apparently the fact that lies would be noted and exposed had no effect on the honesty of the two men. This suggests that they believe that this exposure will have no effect on their chances. If so, the seem to be right about this.

One reason why they can lie with seeming impunity is that there are only two viable choices (Romney or Obama) and since both are lying, honesty cannot be a point of distinguishing between them.

Another reason is that most voters have already decided how they will vote and are committed to a degree that would be hard to shake. Mere lying about the facts does not appear to be enough to change minds.

Perhaps the main reason is that, as I have written in other posts, people hold to claims that match their ideology even in the face of refutation. In fact, the strength of a person’s belief in a claim that matches his ideology will generally increase when the claim is objectively refuted. As such, it makes bizarre sense that the candidates would lie so often: their follows are more likely to believe a refuted lie than an actual truth.

Despite the lying done by both parties, they are rather quick to accuse the other side of lying. For example, the latest job figures show that unemployment is at 7.8%. In response to this, some Republicans have claimed that this figure is a deceit. While some claim that the number is simply a fabrication by Obama’s people others claim that out of work Democrats have been lying about being employed to bring down the unemployment numbers.

While it is tempting to dismiss the Republicans’ accusation on the grounds that they are also liars, this would be a logical error. In any case, the unemployment percentage is an objective matter and is presumably one that can be checked independently. Of course, merely by making the accusation loudly and repeatedly, the Republicans will get their fellows to believe it and if it is shown that the figure really is 7.8%, they will even more strongly believe that it is not 7.8%. Naturally, convincing the already convinced will not amount to much in the election-a person just gets one vote regardless of how convinced they are. There is, of course, a chance that this will influence the few undecided voters which could be the reason behind the accusation. On the other side, many Democrats will be even more inclined to accept the number now that some Republicans are attacking it.

Another point about truth that has been raised is the matter of how Romney has switched his positions throughout the process, leading to the infamous etch-a-sketch analogy. While securing the nomination, Romney steered hard right but during the debate he tacked left towards the center. His defenders point out that this sort of thing is common practice and that all politicians facing a primary do the same thing. That is, they tack left or right for the primary and then head for the center for the general election. Naturally, the fact that it is a common practice does not make it correct.

In addition to the moral concern regarding deception (and this process is intentional deceit) there is also the concern that this practice makes it rather difficult for the voters to know what the person actually believes or what s/he will actually do.While it might be claimed that the voters should compensate by taking into account the tacking, that seems to amount to saying that the voters should be aware that what the politicians say is not the truth. Or, put another way, that the voters should not take anything they say seriously, yet they should still vote for them.

In the case of Romney, which is the real Mitt: the primary Mitt, the debate Mitt, the Massachusetts Mitt or some other Mitt we have not met yet? In the case of Obama, he has been in office for nearly four years, thus we have a good idea of what he is like.

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    The problem is that most of these so-called fact checkers go way beyond the facts, and start judging truth and falsehood by their personal impressions. Here is an example:

    Romney: Obama is “cutting $716 billion” from Medicare

    The verdict: “Half-True”

    What’s true is the number — ObamaCare reduces the growth of Medicare spending by $716 billion over 10 years, primarily in what’s paid to hospitals and insurers, says PolitiFact. But Romney “gives the impression that the law takes money already allocated to Medicare away from current recipients,” and that’s not true.

    Fact checkers are supposed to check facts, and here Romney got his facts right. The interpretation of those facts is not the job of the fact checkers, and even Mike will no doubt admit that the same facts can be interpreted in different ways.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      But Romney actually does do just that. That seems to be legitimate point. Likewise, when Obama says that Mitt will add trillions to the deficit by his tax cuts, it is legitimate to check that by noting that Mitt claims he will offset that by closing loopholes.

      • T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm

        So we are supposed to believe that you can cut $716 billion dollars “primarily in what’s paid to hospitals and insurers” but that is not going to affect current recipients?

        Do you really believe that, Mike?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

          I would say that this is no more implausible than Romney’s claim that he will cut taxes by 20% without increasing the deficit. That is, while the claim seems unlikely on the face of it, there are conditions under which it would be true.

          Returning to the claim itself, it depends on the time frame of the cut as well as what else is being done along with the cut. You’ll note I’m consistently applying the same basic principle that I am applying to Romney’s claim. That is, I am willing to consider what else is going along with the cut when assessing the impact of the entire plan.

      • T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        A fact is a fact. The Washington Post:

        Romney’s right: Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Here’s how.


        • T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm

          Mike, do you believe Obama’s buddy Hugo Chavez truly won his election by 10 points as he says he did?

          • magus71 said, on October 9, 2012 at 9:20 am

            He was shaking hands with Gadaffi shortly before he helped kill him, so maybe it’s a ruse.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

            Chavez? I’m impressed that he only won by 10 points. The tradition is usually for the glorious leader to get 113% of the votes.

            Naturally, I’m a bit skeptical of the elections. However, it is not wildly implausible that he would be re-elected for real.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 10:55 am

          True, a fact is a fact.

          But which fact is a truth?

    • biomass2 said, on October 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Romney asserts that Obama is “cutting $716 billion” from Medicare

      Based solely on what you write, it would have been more “facty” and less misleading if Romney would have said “Obama is cutting the growth of Medicare spending by $716 billion over the next ten years, but that won’t affect money already allocated to Medicare away from current recipients.”
      Better still would be a slightly more in depth, and probably even less partisan, analysis of the reality of the situation from factcheck.org:
      $716 Billion, Again
      “Romney went on to say, “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.” But the fact is, the money isn’t being taken away from Medicare. Instead, Medicare would spend it, but over a longer period of time than was expected before the health care law. The law extends the solvency of the Medicare Part A trust fund.

      As we’ve explained before, most of this reduction in spending comes in Medicare Part A, or hospital coverage, through a reduction in the growth of payments to hospitals. Medicare payroll taxes, which fund Part A, are either immediately spent by Medicare as they come in, or they’re put in a trust fund. Medicare gets a bond for that tax money from Treasury. And any time Medicare wants to cash in that bond, it can. Treasury has to pay it — even if Treasury already spent the original money on something else.

      Cutting the growth of Medicare spending is a good thing — without these $716 billion cuts, Part A’s trust fund is expected to be depleted in 2016. But with them, that date is pushed back to 2024. At that point, Medicare’s payroll tax revenue would only be enough to cover 87 percent of benefits.

      That’s if the reductions in spending growth are actually instituted as the law envisions. Medicare’s actuaries are skeptical. They have said that many experts believe the “price constraints would become unworkable and that Congress would likely override them.”

      Romney said: “Some 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won’t take any more Medicare patients under that scenario.” That’s close to what Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, said in congressional testimony in January 2011. Foster said that his office’s economic simulations “suggest that roughly 15 percent of Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.” He added: “Although this policy could be monitored over time to avoid such an outcome, changes would likely result in smaller actual savings than described here for these provisions.”

      But that doesn’t match with what Romney claimed. Yet he said what he said.
      And what he said is like one of those ads for a movie where critics are cited for their rave reviews.
      The ad (In this case, Romney, but you could plug in any pol here): ” According to the study it is Colossal!”
      Original study (In this case, apparently, a more complete overview of the situation than there was time available to explain*) : “It’s a colossal waste of time and money.”

      “I don’t have time to explain it to you. Just know we’re doing it.”
      I guess, it’s like pornography; Well know it when we see it. 🙂

    • WTP said, on October 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      “even Mike will no doubt admit”…Have we found the 73rd Fallacy? Tantallacy? Need to investigate it’s use in alloys

  2. rightwingnutsandbolts said, on October 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    There is, unfortunately, not enough time or space for anyone to explain the facts in context or to present an argument as to why this is a good or bad thing. Consequently, everything is distilled to sound bites. It is the responsibility of every citizen to dig into what is said and discover what it really means. Since the American people fail to do this, they are to blame for being misled. This election, for me, comes down to stated principles. Obama states that he is for relaxing the moral compass of the country and enslaving citizens to government. Romney states that he is for conservative moral principles and relaxing the grip of government upon its citizens. I know that Obama will do what he states. I don’t know about Romney, but I hope he will do as he states. That’s a better choice for me than the certainties of Obama.

    • biomass2 said, on October 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      And your digging has boiled Obama’s and Romney’s sound bites into other soundbites. What ‘moral compass’ is being relaxed. Does everyone agree about Roe v. Wade’s effect on ‘moral principles? Are these moral principals the same as yours? What conservative moral principles? Are there conservatives who don’t share those principles? Are they not moral individuals?

      “I know that Obama will do what he states. I don’t know about Romney, but I hope he will do as he states.” Is it possible you don’t know about Romney because he’s been so many different conservatives over the last year? The pre-primary Romney. The primary Romney. The post primary Romney. The 47% Romney and the 100% Romney. The debate Romney.

      • T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

        RWN&B made the point that with Romey at least there is hope, but with Obama we know for a fact there is no hope.

        And what Romney will do is not hard to discern. His main focus will be to waken the “animal spirits” of free enterprise and tame the budget deficit. He will even keep the parts of Obamacare that are popular.

        • biomass2 said, on October 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

          You “know for a fact” Is that fact based on an interpretation of events based on your beliefs? Can you really see into the future based on what you think is a fact?
          Will Romney keep the popular “age 26” element of Obamacare. He said in the debate that that’s part of his plan when in fact it’s not?
          Another one of Romney’s half-truths/half-lies.
          What do you think? Is a half-truth half-lie something that you can use to predict a ‘fact’?

          • T. J. Babson said, on October 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

            Lat time I checked, biomass, the president needs to work with Congress to get anything passed. But Romney has clearly signaled that he would be open to keeping the popular bits of the ACA. It may be a tough sell in Congress, however. One thing you learn as a parent is that you should never make a promise you can’t keep. Romney is just being responsible about what he is able to promise.

            • biomass2 said, on October 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm

              Be aware: A ‘clear signal’ from an etch-a-sketch candidate may, like an etch-a-sketch image, become fuzzy very quickly.

              How can one possibly be ‘responsible’ about a promise that he twice definitively stated on the debate stage (as in “Pre-existing conditions are covered in my plan” , without the clarifying additional info that would clearly demonstrate that his ‘plan’ does not have the same coverage as Obamacare)?
              From the politifact article I provide above (a small portion of the part you, apparently, chose not to read):

              “Romney said his health care proposals include protections for pre-existing conditions What he didn’t say at the debate — but which his website states and advisers confirmed after the debate — is that people would be protected from denial only if they have been continuously insured.”
              Of course, I guess, Romney just didn’t have time to tell the whole truth. Twice he said “are covered” and neither time could he shoehorn in the information that would make his statement true—not half-true.

              “The health care law, though, offers protections whether people have current coverage or not, so it offers more robust protection. The law also includes a requirement that everyone have insurance or pay a tax penalty. Romney’s plan doesn’t have that requirement.
              Romney did not mention the qualifier that people have to stay insured to get the protection. That’s a significant omission.”

              So. Here’s Romney’s real plan. Omit it important information from statements , then later, if you become president, you can claim you never promised ‘that part’ . Just like his infamous inability to tell us any specific tax deductions, what he calls loopholes, and specific programs he’d end (other than Public Broadcasting (all $445 million worth—a sum you might find if you looked up “drop in the bucket” in a dictionary of idioms) he’ll be able to cut according to suit his conservative convenience and leave social programs to wither on the vine.

              And yes, we know that a president must work with Congress to get bills passed. Are you also predicting a Republican take-over of the Senate? I remember what happened the last time the Republicans hit the trifecta. Do you?

            • T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 2:00 am

              I am generally against either party getting total control. But since Obama refuses to work with Republicans and Romney has proven he can work with Democrats I think Romney is our only hope of getting some big fiscal problems fixed.

              Romney is clearly a moderate who will cut deals to get things done.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

              The claim that Obama refuses to work with Republicans seems a bit odd, given that the Republican leadership made it clear from the beginning that their main goal was to make him a one term president. They also made it clear that their strategy was to essentially block him. While the opposing party is supposed to engage in rational opposition, the Republicans seem to have taken on a different role.

              While Obama did not reach out as far as he could have, to put all the blame on Obama is unfair. A more accurate characterization is that the Republicans and Democrats largely settled into not cooperating on most matters.

              Romney did work with Democrats back in his moderate Massachusetts days, so he does have a moderate record. Of course, if we believed that Romney is a moderate, we would have to believe that he was deceiving his way through the primaries. This would entail that we would need to believe that Romney is willing to deceive for political gain. So why believe him now?

            • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

              “clearly a moderate”. . .There’s the word “clearly” again. That’s etch-a-sketch clear, right?


            • T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

              Say, biomass, how come we don’t hear about Guantanamo anymore? We heard a lot about it 4 years ago. This is something totally in the President’s control.

              Perhaps what has been etch-a-sketched is your memory?

            • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

              Teej: Several differences: I wouldn’t have said back in 08′ that ‘clearly’ Obama will close Guantanamo, just because he promised he would. I was certain of at least three things then 1/ Obama, as president, would be a big improvement over Bush.( I’m confident that I was correct, no matter how the scrambling opposition would like to recreate history and twist the present) 2/There was no way in hell I wanted Sarah Palin one step away from the presidency when the sitting president would be seventy-two+ years old. 3/ I know that McCain was, and I believe still is, for keeping Guantanamo open. So, if I were pro-closing, that would have been a point for Obama, whether I believed he could get it done or not.

              I don’t know how many different versions of that Guantanamo promise Obama made, but it was likely only one. So far, Romney has made half-true promises and multiple promises about several issues depending on the time frame of the campaign and the audience he’s standing before.

            • T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

              So will you admit that the Dems never really cared about closing Guantanamo?

              So what are the Dems saying this year that they don’t really care about?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

              Some Democrats clearly cared about it. As I recall, there were some efforts to close it. But no one wanted the prisoners in their state and so on. Since Obama said he would close it, it is fair to point that out as a failure on his part. Unless, of course, you think it should remain open. In that case, his failure would have been promising to do something he should not do.

              It is reasonable to hold a person accountable for promises. However, to single out Obama for failing to keep all his promises would be to ignore the fact that Presidents have been unable to keep all their promises. Naturally, you can condemn all of them for this and apply the same standard to the next president as well. I infer with a high degree of confidence that if Mitt gets elected, he’ll break many promises as well. If he doesn’t, that would be extremely unusual.

            • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

              “The Dems”? No.
              The Obama administration. They put political considerations ahead of promises.
              But of course, Romney would NEVER do that. . .:)

            • magus71 said, on October 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

              Mike said:

              “However, to single out Obama for failing to keep all his promises would be to ignore the fact that Presidents have been unable to keep all their promises.”

              The difference in this case, Mike, is that the decision was solely Obama’s. With one stroke of a pen he could have closed it with an executive order. It was also a major part of his campaign, along with Iraq.

              Guantanamo was proof in part that Bush was a proto-fascist, to many, including you. Does this hold true for Obama?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

          But is there hope simply because we do not know the specifics of what Romney will do so that we can hope he will do better? But, “This is ignorance of a disgraceful sort- the conceit that a man knows what he does not know.”(Socrates)

          Well, he will probably cut taxes and try to cut PBS. As far as Obamacare goes, he has been talking lately about keeping it while getting rid of the conservative idea about how to actually pay for it. I’m not clear on how this will rouse up the animal spirits. After all, taxes are already low and corporations have been doing amazingly well. However, they are not using their financial success to create more jobs. Since some corporations already pay no taxes, how will lowering their nonexistent taxes waken the beasts within them?

          Naturally, Romney is not going to give specifics. He is intelligent and knows the political game-if he commits to cutting popular deductions, this will hurt him. We do know what Obama will do-after all, once you get in office then people can actually see the specifics. Under Obama we have had a slow recovery. Under Romney’s tax cuts…well, why would the results be different from what happened under Bush? What exactly is Romney going to do differently? Merely saying that he is going to grow jobs doesn’t mean a damn thing because saying does not make it so.

          • WTP said, on October 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

            We do know what Obama will do-after all, once you get in office then people can actually see the specifics.
            Such naive presumption of prescience would be understandable perhaps in an undergrad. Not to mention that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. “This is ignorance of a disgraceful sort- the conceit that a man knows what he does not know”…indeed. Such as self-awareness and irony?

      • rightwingnutsandbolts said, on October 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        If you want to see what etch-a-sketch really looks like, read this one:

        As for my point about know and unknown, read this one:
        It’s a little rambling, though. Suffice to say that I’m going to lose my shirt under ACA.

        As far as conservative moral compass, OK, I’ll say it loud and proud. This country was started by mostly Christian people, with the idea that it could only work if it held to Christian morals. Obviously, you don’t have to be Christian to follow the ten commandments. But, if you don’t follow them, then you are not a moral conservative. Split hairs all you want, but abortion, gambling, porn, adultery and homosexual marriage are not morally conservative by any means, just to name some examples.

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  4. T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

    The truth:

    On Thursday morning Sesame Workshop CEO Sherrie Westin appeared on CNN to discuss Romney’s statement.

    “The Sesame Workshop receives very little funding from PBS,” she said. “So we are able to raise our funding through philanthropic , through our licensed product, which goes back into the educational programming, through corporate underwriting and sponsorship. So, quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding for public broadcasting. But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and they say we’re going to kill Big Bird—that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here…Big Bird lives on.”

    Obama’s take:

    • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      First, Sherrie Westin has deep roots in Republican administrations—Reagan and GHWBush.

      Now I’m not saying that would color her take on the situation, but it does color my take on what she’s reported to have said.
      “When they always sort of trot out Big Bird and say, ‘We’re going to kill Big Bird,’ that actually is misleading because Sesame Street will be here,” Westin said.

      Takeaway 1/ Sesame street is a small part of the PBS budget. The PBS budget of $450 million is a very small part of our national budget problems. Yet the only solid decision Romney seems to have made so far cut-wise is eliminating PBS subsidies. Sounds like that’ll be way up there on his list if he wins.

      Takeaway 2/ Again Sesame Street is a small part of PBS budget. Getting pubic contributions to save it is likely possible. Hooray for Sherrie Westin. She may be correct in saying “Big Bird will be here”. But if PBS goes, so do Frontline (magus respects Frontline, if I recall) and the PBS News Hour (Why do they always pick Jim Lehrer to moderate these debates?) , and Independent Lens, and Masterpiece Theater (Oops! Strike that! Nobody cares about the dreaded ” Arts”! They’ll rot your mind and freeze your soul. ). But Austin City Limits?

      Takeaway 3/ If the Democrats want to make this an issue, they have to take it beyond Big Bird. They should take it to the audience that bitches that there’s nothing worthwhile on TV.

      • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        “Pubic contributions” Hope no one was offended by this typo. Sorry.

        But it set me to thinking about the unintended possibilities of that phrase. Perhaps Jerry Sandusky would find that an appropriate direction in which to channel his pent up needs for the next 30-60 years. Sell his pubic hair on e-Bay and contribute the proceeds to Sesame Street. He could even start a foundation that would accept pubic contributions from other high-profile convicted pedophiles—proceeds all go to “Sandusky’s Kids”.

      • T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

        Big Bird is doubtless a billionaire.

        • biomass2 said, on October 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm

          He is somewhat bottom heavy. . .

  5. magus71 said, on October 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I’ll be interested to see if I even get a form letter back from this letter that I recently sent to the president, and to NY Rep Pete King. I’m also wondering if the truth will matter in Afghanistan.


    I am a Staff Sergeant in the 1st Brigade, 2-22 Battalion, 10th Mountain Division of the US Army. I am an intelligence analyst by trade and was deployed to Afghanistan 2009-2010. It is my job to keep up with events and to make assessments based on facts and data. Sir, the last decade proves a fact better than the hundreds of pie charts and link diagrams you’ve likely been briefed on during your time in the White House: We are not accomplishing our desired goals in Afghanistan. We have not degraded the Taliban insurgency significantly enough to allow an ANSF takeover in 2014. There are several reasons for this. First, our generals have massively underestimated the difficulty in building a democracy in a society that holds few democratic ideals. Secondly, the counterinsurgency strategy employed in Afghanistan fails to meet the military’s own doctrinal standards of 1 security force member to 50 civilians. Actually, our numbers aren’t even close to the required personnel. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the cross-border safe haven in the Pakistani FATA presents an insurmountable stronghold for insurgent training, rest and recruitment. There are other factors, such as the probability that the Taliban holds the moral high ground over the government in Kabul, even by Western standards.
    The insurgency has employed every gambit of Sun Tzu, while we have sought to fight a war Galahad would be proud of. Our troops patrol with vague or unknown directives, because current counterinsurgency doctrine says this will connect them with the people. Little consideration is given to the enemy, who is also trying in every manner to influence the people. They are doing a much better job at it then are we. Our Soldiers are targets for snipers and bomb makers who do not fear retribution because retribution rarely comes.
    Now, because of insider threats, the meager relationship we’d forged with the ANSF is gone. We are trapped in our bases. The enemy is now free to move about and mass for attack. And why is the Taliban able to penetrate the ANSF with such frequency? Because the Taliban’s creed is almost indistinguishable from the average Pashtun male’s. Xenophobic, jealous, quick to anger, Pashtuns love a good fight. And unlike our Soldiers in Afghanistan, they can go back to their houses and families every night after they kill our service members.

    Please consider an early withdrawal. We are the hunted, not the hunters.

    SSG Douglas Moore

    • T. J. Babson said, on October 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      Nice letter. King will respond. Don’t hold your breath on Obama.

  6. magus71 said, on October 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Again, does the truth matter to this administration?

    Dear Sir/Ma’am:

    In the past six months I have witnessed various attacks on what makes up a thin and fragile line between order and chaos in a free society; from the Central Intelligence Agency to a local Massachusetts police officer. This must stop. The men and women of these agencies and services step forward, and serve this country in various forms without regard to their personal or economic well being; they do it because they possess an ember that provokes in them a desire to protect the American public, and by extension our way of life, that is, freedom. In short they have the “right stuff” and they prove it every day they infiltrate dangerous organizations hell bent on horror, or keep a once idiotic teenager, like yours truly once was, from violating the vehicle and traffic law. I think it is high time for a little reminder of what these men and women endure to get where they are to do their jobs, and maybe in doing this all of you who are in charge will stop dumping on all of them.

    In order to become and remain a CIA agent one must continually lie to their family and friends, pass a vigorous background check, endure a training program that is psychologically as well as physically grueling, all the while living under a microscope for months where every emanation is recorded, reviewed, and discussed ad nauseam with people you have never met. Assuming one makes it to graduation, the new agents are then given assignments all over the globe in an effort to widen our intelligence net; to enable all of you to make wise choices as to how to react to the challenges this nation is, and will face. As far as a personal life or marriages, rarely do they endure, and children are difficult to have if you and your spouse are separated by continents for months on end. The penalty for detection in many of these regions is an excruciatingly painful death; the best these captured agents can hope for is to die while being tortured. You can bet Kim Jung Whack Job is not following the United States Army Field Manual.

    In order to become a police officer and remain one, one must have and continue to live on the right side of the law and pass psychological testing. They must train for dangerous and unpredictable situations that they will most likely face alone. The men and women of the thousands of police departments risk their lives to enforce the law while simultaneously respecting the constitutional rights of citizens so that the law abiding can live freely. Every day hundreds of thousands of police officers kiss their wives and children goodbye; put on twenty to forty pounds of gear including a loaded weapon, and earnestly set forth to enforce the law and protect the public, sometimes even protecting a citizen from his or her own stupidity; all the while knowing that for a handful of officers this will be the last day they ever see their children, wife or husband on this earth. Recently a Massachusetts police officer was dispatched to respond to an alleged break-in in progress; this particular officer, arrived on the scene; proceeded in accordance with his training; to secure, apprehend potential suspects, and to every extent possible maintain the scene for a potential prosecution of as yet undetermined suspects – and he was viciously attacked for it.

    How can all of you expect that we will attract and retain the best individuals this nation has to offer if you attack them? In the recent past Speaker Pelosi accused the CIA of lying or President Obama last week automatically assumed a police officer is acting “stupidly” after declaring he did not know the facts. President Clinton spent his terms in office declaring a world at peace and cashed the peace dividend on top of the CIA and the defense of this nation; that brought us the loss of lives on September 11, 2001; decimated our economy and brought us a war that has no end because we have not yet begun ramping up to attack the wider enemy; an enemy who you can all bet will attack us again. All of you at a bare minimum would serve this nation far better if you supported, and when ever possible, celebrated the efforts of all of these men and women in their efforts to do their vital jobs. As far as doing your jobs; any government that is accruing a Seven Billion Two Hundred Million dollar debt ($7,200,000,000) every twenty-four hours against a rapidly shrinking economy, while contemplating spending hundreds of billions of dollars on everything from taking over the health system to “cash for clunkers” is clearly not doing its job.


    Joe Doakes


  7. biomass2 said, on October 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Romney’s campaign seems to understand Romney better than anyone outside the campaign . Two examples— one from the primaries, one from the last few days— are presented here.

    ” . . the GOP presidential frontrunner suffered an embarrassing setback when his top aide, Eric Fehrnstrom, compared Romney’s campaign to an Etch A Sketch. When asked how Romney could succeed in the general election after moving so far to the right during the primary, Fehrnstrom told CNN, “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
    http://theweek.com/article/index/225870/mitt-romney-the-etch-a-sketch-candidateRomney: “


    Romney: “‘There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Later Romney’s campaign appeared to back away from his remarks, saying in a statement: ‘Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president.'”

    Then this.”I’m running out of fingers and toes to count the number of positions he has taken on abortion,’said Steve Deace, a conservative radio host in Iowa.’This is someone who does not have a deep or abiding position on this issue either way, and I think what it does is it puts pro-life leadership in America in a difficult position. I don’t know anybody in the pro-family movement who is not for sale who trusts him. People want to know who the person is that they are voting for at their core. I just don’t think he cares.’”

    Someone bumps the etch-a-sketch against an issue that might get a vote, and the image on the screen
    takes another shape.

  8. T. J. Babson said, on October 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Can you remember back to 2008, biomass?

    While campaigning in Ohio, Mr. Obama has harshly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Ohioans blame for an exodus of jobs. He agreed last week at a debate with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States should consider leaving the pact if it could not be renegotiated.

    On Monday, a memorandum surfaced, obtained by The Associated Press, showing that Austan D. Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who is Mr. Obama’s senior economic policy adviser, met officials last month at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

    According to the writer of the memorandum, Joseph De Mora, a political and economic affairs consular officer, Professor Goolsbee assured them that Mr. Obama’s protectionist stand on the trail was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”

    It also said the professor had assured the Canadians that Mr. Obama’s language “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”


    • biomass2 said, on October 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      TJ: I’ll admit it: The sin of “political positioning” is a universal political tool. Some do it with a little less flair than others. Some are serial repositioners. There are sins of commission (come right out and say it and change it later) and sins of omission (omit a claim before some audiences and include it before others). Occasionally, but not always, the deception is accidental, unintentional.

      In any case, the public, you and me and those others, take it all in and retreat to grade-school-like arguments: “Teacher, his friend lied first.” “NO, teacher. He’s lying. His friend lied first.” I guess it’s too much to expect our political leaders to progress beyond that stage.

  9. WTP said, on October 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm

  10. biomass2 said, on October 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Does anyone watch the vids on here anymore?

    I’ll randomly choose a passage–from 6:52 to 8:21, say —and place it here for your consideration. I haven’t watched one second of the vid. Watch if you wish. I don’t.

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