Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Lyin' Country

By Peter Rodman

I'm beginning to wonder about my country.
On a national level, we've got Republicans shutting down the government, monuments included--then pretending to let veterans into the WWII memorial--complete with a podium, and a microphone(who knew!)conveniently set-up right beside it, for RNC chairman Reince Priebus to proudly boast (on national TV!) about letting them in, when HIS PARTY shut 'em out in the first place!
Talk about chutzpah!
Does a man who does this have any conscience at all?
Has life boiled down to a winner-take-all game, and nothing more?
Does the truth even matter in America anymore?
Or is "up" finally "down," and vice versa?

This may seem at first unrelated...but do you remember around 5 years ago, when we all started getting 'robo-calls' every single day?
Even if you were on the 'Do Not Call' list?
Back when the list worked, I got none.
Now...I get two or three a day, minimum.
And they've gotten quite sophisticated, in their deception:
"Hey," says the caller, "this is Jeff, with a reminder..." blah, blah, with just the right pauses...before you even realize it's recorded.
Why did this begin happening so often, just 5 years ago?
Because unregulated CABLE TV companies (who are monopolies, in most American cities) began offering home telephone service back then, and blew right past every existing law regarding telephone privacy. My phone--unlisted forever--suddenly became 'listed.' Now, you can look up my entire domicile history, like anyone else's. But before--believe me--you couldn't.
It's gotten so bad that last year, the FCC actually offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could come up with a new program to restore the effective "Do Not Call" system we used to have. (The reward money is still out there for any aspiring computer geeks, just in case you can't get your pajama-wearing deadbeat kid out of his pajamas.)

So there are two (seemingly) unrelated examples of what I would call 'brazen deception in America.'
And I'm not even gonna COUNT the kind of stuff we've always had--which once fooled a foreign houseguest of mine into thinking some guy named 'Ed MacMahon' was about to come to the house any minute, with 10 million dollars for her. (I am not making this up.)
I remember gently telling her, "No, here in the States, never believe anything anyone tells you, until I see it! They're all lying!"
And we thought it was bad back then!
In addition to no longer being 'rare,' this deceptive behavior seems to have become the norm in my country.

Need more?

Then there's a piece of mail which just arrived this afternoon:
Tell me, when did junk mail become SO deceptive that even an eagle-eyed, paranoid guy like me can't recognize it?
Answer: When they stole the exact type-faces of IRS and other government documents, just to sell the same old insurance and prescription drug scams they've always sold.
Shouldn't that be illegal?
If even I can't tell it's fake, how does my 90 year old Aunt stand a chance?

So here we are. A nation of charlatans, liars, and cheats.
John Lennon was right: Nothing is real.
At least not anymore...

What I'm wondering, is how we ever managed to get the last honest guy in America elected President, and then allowed him to be bamboozled and obstructed by one tiny, radical wing of the Republican party?
Oh, wait...silly me!
I remember how!
It actually goes back to Bill Clinton, who allowed "The Fairness Doctrine" to expire.
The Fairness Doctrine, in case you're too young to remember, mandated that all 'talk radio' and other vital public airwaves--which are supposedly licensed in the best interests of the American public--be required to offer both sides of a story, where possible.
Let's allow Rush Limbaugh to have his show. Michael Savage? No problem.
But somewhere in your schedule, as a licensee, you needed to offer a show--any show--from the opposing point of view.
That is gone today.
So if you ever wonder how even some of your own friends became radicalized, now you know.
A steady diet (usually at work) of smart, reasonable sounding voices, spewing wildly racist and hateful garbage that would never even have made it on the air 40 years ago, is all they get.
Eventually, up IS down.
The sky is green, and the grass is blue--as science tells us, a constant repetition of falsehoods makes for truth, over time.
That's what happened.

And when you ask "What would be wrong with reinstating the Fairness Doctrine?," the likes of Sean Hannity become downright apoplectic.
"Let the free market decide!" they holler. "We don't need the government deciding what we can and cannot hear!!!"
Sounds good, right?
But the free market doesn't actually decide. Coinciding with the Fairness Doctrine expiring, restrictions on frequency ownership were virtually erased--which is why, if your city once had 50 radio and TV stations with 50 different owners , it now has 50 stations with only 4 owners.
Even in a city like D.C.--something like 70% African-American and Democratic--you can no longer find a liberal voice anywhere on the radio.
The argument that there'd be "no audience for it" is as bogus as the phony letter above; or the "concern" Mr. Priebus showed for those veterans; or the never-ending phone calls from "Jeff" and "Donna" that you sometimes end up talking to, only to realize they aren't even capable of listening.

Speaking of cheats, have you met my good friend Gerry?
If you google him (say, "GERRY MANDERING DISTRICTS") and look at the maps, he will look like a crazy monster, or a Rorschact test.
But no, that's precisely what gerrymandering looks like--a crazy, convoluted puzzle piece no reasonable person could ever assume was a single district. (Or more importantly, an "accident.")
Remember your 6th grade Social Studies class, where they taught you that term? No?
That's when congressional district maps are "artfully" RE-DRAWN to accomodate a certain known quantity of one party's loyal voters. It ensures that nobody else will ever win an election for that seat, based upon detailed research of voting patterns--and it further ensures that almost nobody can even challenge that congressperson, in a primary.
In 2010, the GOP presided over the most massive re-drawing of congressional district lines in U.S. history.
And people wonder why these Tea Party people keep getting re-elected!
It's as if the currently winless New York Giants re-drew the football field, so that every time they stepped into their own locker room...TOUCHDOWN!!!

I'll say it again:
We've become a nation of charlatans, liars, and cheats.
That's us, today.
And any place where dishonesty reigns is doomed to destroy itself, sooner or later.

Oh...and stay away from the West Side Highway.

Copyright 2013 by Peter Rodman. All Rights Reserved.

Here's a song (written by my friend Gary Burr, and sung by Patty Loveless) you might find relevant!

This doo wop classic by the Shields was included on the very first 'Oldies But Goodies' album:

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