What’s Good for the Goose – or – The Door Swings Both Ways

You’ve undoubtedly heard both of those phrases.  And I know you’ve heard “Do unto others, yadda yadda, etc. etc.”  C’mon, admit it, your parents taught you all those when you were little.  Usually they accompanied them consoling you when the bigger kids did something to you that you didn’t like, right?  And you internalized the principle as you grew up.  So now like most good people you try not to do anything that you wouldn’t want done back to you.  But that’s only half of the story, there’s a tootsie roll center there too!  Like most good philosophical principles there is something deeper hidden inside it that doesn’t make itself too clear at first glance.

By now you’re used to me asking you, in these pages, to figure out what the heck that premise has to do with anything of import in your life.  So here I go asking – can you figure it out? What exactly makes them important?  Here’s my early clue – there’s something in there that lies at the heart of what could eventually bring our nation to its knees unless we find the tootsie roll first.  You read that correctly.  The “Do unto others” line is critical to our survival as a nation.

So let’s step back and look from a distance, just for a minute, at the political climate today.  Right now I’m pretty sure that you’re thinking that the answer is somewhere in the realm of “we shouldn’t bully other countries around”.  Or maybe “America doesn’t have a good reputation in the world, so let’s try to be nicer people”.  Or “What gives us, the big country, any right to try to dictate what some foreign country does”.  Nope!  Not even close. You fell into the trap of looking only at the outside of the tootsie pop. Too easy for these pages.  Let’s delve a little deeper.

diversity poster
But UNITY is Better!

We live now in a culture that suggests, no demands, that we TOLERATE other people’s cultures, other religions, and every other “other” that comes along.  We hear political leaders stumping about being tolerant.  We instruct educators to include inclusiveness in their lesson plans.  We have religious leaders pontificating about how our religions are more alike than unalike. We must reach out and make it known that we will tolerate each other’s differences.  Americans will not be outdone in this matter.  Now don’t assume that I think this is a bad policy.  On the contrary I endorse it in the extreme.  I think it is a noble goal of an educated society.  I happen to personally like the idea that we can have a country that is at once inclusive and unified.  There are few places on the planet where tolerance is given out so freely.

But here’s the rub (isn’t there always a rub?).  All of those politicians and educators and religious leaders have only looked at the outside of the pop.  The answer lies in what we’re NOT doing!  That’s right, we’re not doing enough.  In fact we’re only doing half.  The other and equally important half is that we need to demand, from all those that we willingly tolerate, that they in turn tolerate US!  That’s the tootsie roll.  And we don’t get it, literally or figuratively.

Yes, Christians will accept Muslims, so long as Muslims accept Christians.  Yes, Whites will accept Blacks so long as Blacks accept Whites.  Yes, I will recognize your individual right to do pretty much whatever you damn please, as long as you accept my right to do the same.  And in the end, if it proves out that the other guy won’t tolerate me – then I stand by my right not to tolerate him.  That’s the “as you would have them do unto you” part.  It’s the part that speakers are always too shy to mention.  Oh, and by shy I mean scared!

Can you imagine a President standing up and saying to the country “Let’s accept and tolerate the XXX’s – but only if they accept us too – and by the way, stop trying to kill us!”  Nope, never happen.  Not unless another Teddy Roosevelt comes along.  But why not?  It is just as good for the goose, isn’t it?  But until we start demanding a bi-lateral approach, we are very likely going to tolerate ourselves right out of existence!

Fox News vs. CNN

Here’s the headline:

Obama resembles Thomas Jefferson.  Gingrich channels John Adams.

Welcome to America. Polarized America that is.  Gone is the good ol’ Red, White and Blue America, now we’re down to only Red or Blue.  Everyone knows whether they live in a Red State or a Blue State.  When we’re in our cars, if we’re not listening to music, we listen to Red talk or Blue talk.  We read Blue newspapers or Red newspapers, but not both.  And of course, we watch Red news or Blue news on television. Oh, and by Red news I mean Fox News and by Blue News I mean CNN.  There’s no attempt at purple by either of the top two entertainment news networks.

shows the fox news logo I say entertainment news because that is largely what they have become.  They’re like real reality shows (can I say that without being redundant? again).   They take daily events and beam them out to their audiences filtered through their (red or blue) colored lenses.  If you take a snapshot of their websites you will see two completely different takes on the day’s events. Almost as if the networks themselves were in two different countries.  shows the cnn logo Now, some people today are disturbed by this.  They worry that you are getting your news skewed with one ideology or the other.  And you are.  They worry that the great majority of middle America is unaware of the situation.  And they are.  But mostly they worry that this causes a polarizing bias on both sides.  And it does.

Here’s the rub.  We Americans take our politics very very seriously.  We live it and breathe it.  But this polarization of the news is not news.  It isn’t even a new situation.  Fox didn’t invent it and neither did CNN.  Here’s where we do the look ahead – look back thing that I love to do.

I’ll bet that you would be surprised if I said that President Obama and Harry Reid have lots in common with Thomas Jefferson!  Don’t go sticking your tongue out yet (because you could easily step on it).  I’ll bet you’d be surprised by my suggestion that Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain bear some distinct resemblances to John Adams! OK, maybe those two ideas are a bit of a stretch.  But there is a huge connection here.  You see, the polarizing press has existed almost from the very beginning of our country.  And almost continually ever since.  Starting right with the Presidential election of 1800.  That election deserves a bigger place in our national memory bank.  It was the very first time that there were two candidates opposing each other.  Up until that, George Washington took two terms uncontested.  With Washington there was no need for political parties.  He was the unanimous choice of the electors.  BUT – starting with the Adams/Jefferson election there suddenly were parties.  With the parties came heated and divisive oratory on both sides.  AND this is where it gets really interesting – Adams and Jefferson both had newspapers that worked directly for them, that they actually funded!  The editors wrote the stories that they wanted written, and trashed the opposition the way that they wanted them trashed. In retrospect, Obama and Gingrich can’t hold a candle to Adams and Jefferson.  They’re literal (or literary) babes in the woods by comparison.  No, I don’t really believe that Obama resembles Jefferson.  Jefferson was so much more accomplished at the task.  And Gingrich, he kind of does resem…..  (forget that).  So the lineage of Fox and CNN goes back over 200 years.  It didn’t seem to damage the national psyche in the interim.  It most likely won’t damage it now either.  But in order to get a truly ‘fair and balanced’ portrayal of the world, you need to watch a little Red and a little Blue.  Or get yourself a pair of HD-3D multi-color reading glasses.

It’s Election Season Again…

‘Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct’

Thomas Jefferson – regarding politicians.

 

The politicians are at it again, although they never really stop, do they?  It’s stumping time in the USA and this time they are rising to new lows.  And I mean ALL of them too, the ins and the outs.  You can expect to weather a storm of politico troopers on TV and radio and newspapers this election.  The out-front topic that beats all of the others this election cycle is JOBS.  You see, jobs are tight, and for them it’s a matter of keeping their jobs, or getting the other guy’s job, or getting their old job back – in no way shape or form are any of their platforms based on OUR jobs!  Funny how NONE of them are ever seen working at real-life jobs.  Like the dad on Leave It to Beaver, they leave home in the morning, and come home at night, but no one knows where they’ve been all day – especially the outs.  Actually that makes them more akin to mosquitoes (and by the way – where do all the mosquitoes go during the daytime?). They all talk about jobs, the general public’s job, but they never directly mention their own job.  It strikes me as just a little bit unusual that the entire class of politicos, who spend 100% of every day talking about themselves, feel the need to dance ever so delicately around the subject of their employment status.  So every time you hear one of them talking you should get out your ‘Politician-to-English’ dictionary and you’ll find that it translates every phrase into – “hey, I need this job because I’m not qualified to do anything else” followed by a lengthy stream of blah blah blahs (which is every other translation in that dictionary).  That’s it, plain and simple.  No matter what sounds their lips are making they’re really pleading for a job, and not actually trying to help you get a job.  And that’s exactly why we’ll see way too much of them this time – jobs are tougher to get this year.

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.’  

Abraham Lincoln – regarding a politician.

So back to my original point – how did they rise to new lows?  Each election cycle they all seem argue over one major topic.  Some years it is foreign affairs, some years it is education, and this year – wait for it – they are all talking about – you guessed it the “Economy” (remember that means THEIR jobs).  Now someone on one side made up a slogan for their team of  “no more taxes” which, when translated = “ I need the job”.  And the other side quickly counter attacked with the retort “ the wealthy should pay their fair share  translated =  “I need the job” (if you’ve been looking these up in your P-to-E dictionary, then you’re starting to get the hang of it.

Sounds like the basis of a healthy debate, right?  Wrong.  Here’s the downside for us.  By deciding to use this topic for their job-hunting purposes, the one side has alienated all of the people that don’t pay taxes. The other side has alienated all the people that feel that they already pay for everything.  They’ve created a nice little case of class-warfare, and that is very dangerous for all of us.  Unfortunately most of the general public gets worked up into a lather listening to all of this.  We forget that they are just using us to get their jobs.  And the news media won’t remind us of that either, because their jobs also depend on the opposing sides doing battle.  The citizens lose the class-warfare battle every time, no matter which side they’re on.  Check it out in the history books.  French Revolution, Russian Revolution, etc. etc.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear just one Politico stand up proud, throw away his Politico-to-English dictionary, and tell us “ Hey guys I really need the job – and by the way” (in English now) – “I think that the country would be better off if we could get some new ideas that will make our economy grow FOR EVERYONE.” And then follow that up with “I’m not 100% sure how we’re gonna do it, but I’m going to spend my days finding some smart people that have some new ideas”.  Straight English – no translation- honest about his or her abilities.  Refreshing – yes.  Possible – no way.  Until we the people realize how the politicos conduct their job searches.  Instead of ballots why don’t we just give them all applications to fill out?