Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great Exaggerator

Former president Ronald Reagan was given the moniker, “The Great Communicator,” due to his prowess in debates, speeches and addresses. Before the House of Representatives passed a partisan "resolution of disapproval" under the pretense of civility, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) explicitly attempted to assign the current sitting president a similar communication-inspired title. Yet, during former president George W. Bush’s tenure in office, Democrats frequently called him names without admonishment. As example, in a 2004 interview with Tim Russert, Heny Reid (D-NV) confirmed that he said, "President Bush is a liar." Reid never received any discipline for the remark, nor did he ever apologize. Of course, he was not on the Senate floor at the time – apparently making it okay to say it on national television – unlike Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) three years later, who was on the House floor when he repeatedly called out Bush as a liar:
All told, the situation seems slightly hypocritical. After all, the president himself conveyed a similar attitude toward those opposed to his health care reform in the very speech that prompted Wilson’s outburst. He was just more subtle about it:  

"Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost…that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens…It is a lie, plain and simple."

No one can be na├»ve enough to believe lies are not part and parcel in politics, particularly when politicians try to push their agendas. Obviously, it helps when the media is your personal public relations firm. An example among many, MSNBC’s David Shuster propagated this laughable nugget:  "You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they've sort of become unhinged." No women? No minorities? Apparently, Shuster needs to re-examine the Republican rolls, failing to remember Sarah Palin, who is very much a woman, running as the vice-presidential candidate last November and Michael Steele, who is a black man, heading the party that nominated her.

President Obama himself is guilty of similar "exaggerations." Take his claims concerning the deficit, when he said, "Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for – from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy." The only problem is that when he took office the deficit was half that amount, at just under $500 billion. Prophetically, however, the deficit has in fact grown to over a trillion dollars, thanks in large part to his economic policies. With his proposed health care “reforms,” it stands to be even worse by the time his successor walks in the door.

Regardless of Wilson’s rebuke, analyzed the main points of Obama’s healthcare speech to Congress. They found that three out of four were, at the very least, overstated. Whether that makes him a liar is debatable, but it certainly confirms him as a politician. As such, a more appropriate designation for President Obama might be as “The Great Exaggerator."

©2009 Steve Sagarra

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day of Days

There are those who believe that the United States government, and more pointedly the Bush Administration, not only was involved in September 11th, but that it was the instrumental mastermind behind the attacks. To be fair, I openly support healthy debate and conspiracy theory paranoia on controversial subjects, and there are still many unsolved questions concerning the attacks from the events leading up to them to the aftermath following. Let’s face it, though, Americans love a good conspiracy – especially if there’s even the merest possibility of truth to it.

However, the notion that the U.S. government masterminded the attacks – allowing thousands of innocent civilians to die – in order to ignite a Crusade-like war is inconceivable if not abhorrent. In the annals of lunacy, the theory ranks with the well-publicized belief that President Franklin Roosevelt let the Japanese practically obliterate the Pacific fleet on December 7, 1941 – allowing valuable military personnel and equipment to perish – as pretext for entering the Second World War. Both scenarios are ludicrous and make no sense, yet people still believe in them. Just goes to show that people will believe anything.

I prefer to reflect on September 11, 2001, in a different way. First, that al-Qaeda terrorists, provoked or otherwise yet nonetheless bent on the destruction of Western civilization, did the unimaginable and attacked the United States, and by proxy allied nations, on our soil. Second, that thousands of innocent persons – from civilian office workers to emergency responders – perished in both the initial attacks and the ensuing chaos that followed them. Third, that a generation of brave and honorable men and women answered the gauntlet tendered by those cowardly terrorists and continue even today to combat the evil they represent worldwide, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is how I care to remember that “day of days” – celebrating the unremitting triumph of the American spirit over barbarism, rather than the incessant questioning of the American endeavor inconsiderate of such barbarism.

©2009 Steve Sagarra

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When the Children Cry

Over the weekend, I had the chance to watch the movie Changeling, a fact-based story of a child’s disappearance. To be honest, I knew nothing about the subject going into it, but found it a well-crafted, well-acted and poignant portrayal of a lone mother’s plight to find her child in 1920s Los Angeles. Not to give away spoilers, but the gross mistreatment by those in authority toward her and their ineptitude in investigating the case is nauseatingly disgraceful from a modern perspective. Of course, Christine Collins was not Charles Lindbergh.

Not surprisingly, I found the story resonatingly reminiscent of recent events concerning missing children. Naturally, I thought immediately of Shawn Hornbeck, but I turned distinctively more to Jaycee Lee Dugard. To put her case in perspective, I was a 19-year old readying to graduate high school when 11-year old Jaycee was abducted waiting for the bus to take her to elementary school. As I was preparing to start a positive, new chapter in my life, this little girl was beginning an unknown life of hell because of the actions of a loathsome, repeat deviant. Both their cases, along with the thousands still unsolved, really makes one reflect on the “hardships” one has faced and dwelled upon in comparison to what these abducted children have been through in their disrupted lives.

It also makes one wonder why we keep letting child predators, molesters and other such filth of that ilk continue to walk among society. As far as many are concerned, myself included, people like Michael Devlin and Phillip Garrido forfeit their lives the moment they touch a child. After all, psychologists consider these acts akin to murder – with the exception that the victim is left hollowly alive. However, we as a culture are too “civilized” to put to death the “uncivilized” for acts seen as rehabilitative, mental conditions rather than an extant, societal threat.

*Jaycee Lee Dugard Trust Fund*

(And yes, it is a White Lion song. It seemed apropos.)

©2009 Steve Sagarra