So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Three strikes and are you out?

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC.

This past week will go down in history as the week of multiple bombshells never seen before in Presidential elections. We are in uncharted territory as we have been for the past few years. One major revelation this close to the election could swing the results. Three in a row has created shock and awe not just in the conservative world, but in the entire world.

The release of President Trump's tax returns was inevitable whether voluntary or by a leak to a major newspaper. His success as an artful business deal maker has been brought into question. His being smart enough to find every loophole and gimmick to eliminate paying income tax over many years may be smart, but it is not right.

 Many of his supporters who struggle to put food on the table while seeing their paychecks diminished significantly by tax deductions can now wonder about supporting a candidate that lives a lavish lifestyle while paying little or no income taxes. Paying a fair share of taxes does not make one a “sucker and a loser.”

To be fair, his companies pay a lot of state and local taxes - as do we all. The real question to think about is to whom does the President owe, with personal guarantees, more than $425 million coming due during his potential next term and will that burden impact his decision making?  Perhaps we can sum this up by quoting famous author Herman Wouk. "Income taxes are the most imaginative fiction being written today." Problem is that we want truth and not fiction from the leader of the free world.

The second bombshell was the slugfest misnamed "debate." This columnist firmly supports a respectful political discussion about issues. We certainly have an unending list of challenges facing our democracy. My parents and mentors taught me about decorum and decency. If you want to win a debate you listen to your opponent and then disassemble their argument. That is being defensive. Another way to win a debate is to be persuasive with fact-based arguments. Despite preparation by both candidates, the event quickly devolved with interruptions and low blows regarding the struggles of family members. There were also more than 125 untruths and distortions from both candidates. No one won this debate. In fact, everyone lost this contest. It was a shameful eye opener for any thinking person.

There is a saying in baseball that is very easy to understand. "Three strikes and you are out." It remains to be determined if this oft-used quote transfers to politics. Regardless of political leaning, we must all be empathetic to the President, his family, members of Congress and key staffers who have tested positive or been hospitalized for the COVID 19 virus. No caring person wishes this curse to fall on our leaders. 

We all should have compassion for the 210,000 people in the Unites States who have died since this tragedy began to unfold last March. Yet it is difficult to erase from our memories the total mismanagement and disdain for the impacts of the pandemic. The scientists who gave us sound advice were ignored by so many who now suffer from the disease. Can we or should we put that behind us as we start early voting? That remains to be seen. 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

You Can't Unring the Bell says Roger Carlton

Roger Carlton
This wonderful phrase was first used in a 1912 Oregon Supreme Court case State v. Rader. Mr. Rader was accused and convicted of arson when he burned two of his neighbor's haystacks. At trial, the prosecution's theory was that Rader committed the crime in retaliation for the victim of the arson reporting that Rader had cut off the tail of one of the victim's cows. This testimony was allowed by the Judge which meant that the Judge did not instruct the jury to ignore the unrelated testimony. We call that a reversible error. On appeal the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that it was not an easy task to unring the bell of the inadmissible testimony. This meant that the jury was unduly influenced. So, Rader's haystacks and cow's tail removal went un-avenged. 

What does this 108 year- old case have to do with our life today? Simple. We all say things that we regret, sometimes for the rest of our lives. Politicians from the White House to the guardhouse say awful things that they may or may not regret. With today's electronic communication, racially insensitive remarks, incendiary rhetoric, self-serving blather, disrespecting women and just plain gross distortions of the truth, can be blasted out to tens of millions of eyes and ears causing great damage to government's credibility.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says Congress shall not abridge freedom of speech or the press. The Founders never dreamed of Facebook and Twitter. The press to them was a newspaper with a few reporters. It took weeks for news to travel from remote areas. Yet that press was granted the right to operate nearly without restraint. Today we can abridge free speech if it is hateful or dangerous. You can't yell "fire" in a theater just because you feel like it. The term "Clear and Present Danger" means that the gravity, evil and improbability of a statement allows free speech to be abridged to avoid danger. Neo-Nazi's marching in uniform denying the Holocaust in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood may not meet the test unless it can be proven that there is a resultant danger. Simply being repulsed is not enough.

Twitter and Facebook and virtually all responsible media are grappling with this conundrum. We don't want to limit free speech but these giant profit machines should not be the purveyors of lies and deceit to millions. To appear responsible, Twitter warns us that the content of a politician's smoke and mirrors should be verified by the reader. How many of the Tweet-junkies make the time or have the time to research the truth. Truth seekers would be the exception to the rule. So just like the nauseating and depressing drug warnings that us old folks have to endure during the evening news, Twitter's response is not very satisfying. Given all those warnings, a cautious person would never take the stuff. 

Facebook has copped out completely. When a post said "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," Facebook should have recognized that such statements incite violence. They did not, even in light of numerous employees' disgust over the posts. That is why this columnist does not Facebook or Tweet. I follow Danny Trejo's line in his cult movie "Machete." He says "Machete don't Tweet."

One last word on unringing the bell. No matter how apologetic the response, no matter how many mea culpas are expressed, no matter how sincere the promise for better behavior may be, the bell cannot be unrung. For example, when a local elected official posts a well-written commentary on supporting the police that was written by an anonymous person,  good judgement would have asked, "who is anonymous?" Is the writer a union shop steward, someone who lost a loved one who was protecting the citizens or someone who doesn't want to be de-funded? Judging from the response to the first post, which ranged from hateful threats to great praise, a little research would have been in order before that bell was rung. Anonymous stuff may be worthy of publication, but it may not. Sometimes, when there is smoke, there is fire. Sometimes just a smoke machine.

One thing is certain. During the next five months, political methane gas will explosively multiply. Let's think about what we hear or see and reject anyone who espouses hate or incites violence. Frankly, I don't care what one candidate thinks about another. Don't insult my intelligence and ask me to vote for you because your opponent is a bad person. Ask me to vote for you because you are restrained enough not to need to unring the bell.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Do You Love Your Children and Grandchildren?

Guest post by Roger Carlton.

Say Whaaaat???? Have you gone crazy???? Of course, I love my children and grandchildren. I hug them. Listen to their problems and wipe away their tears. Feed them and care for them. I want to raise them to be good moral people. That columnist must have gone crazy to ask such a question.

Well, if you think I am crazy, that headline achieved its goal. It got your attention. This columnist really believes you love your children and your grandchildren, but you need to think about that love not just in the present. The future is just as important and you have the chance to show that long term love at the polls.

Here are some questions that you might think about to ensure a good future for your children and grandchildren:

  *   Does the candidate believe in protecting the environment or are they a climate change denier?
  *   Does the candidate respect people of all genders?
  *   Does the candidate have the patience and analytical ability to make key decisions that consider all the options?
  *   Does the candidate have the ability to compromise in order to get things done?
  *   Will the candidate have a moral compass that keeps him or her from doing things for their own personal gain?
  *   Does the candidate respect our rich history of accepting immigrants as long as that is done in a controlled manner?
  *   Will the candidate be able to control their desire for revenge when someone does not agree with them?
  *   Will the candidate be  bipartisan once in office?
  *   Will the candidate be able to draw honest, trustworthy, motivated and energetic people into their administration?
  *   Does the candidate believe in paying fair taxes?
  *   Does the candidate have a vision that defines a better world for everyone?
  *   Does the candidate extinguish fires or pour gas on them?

Early voting begins February 3rd and ends February 29th. Absentee ballots must be requested by February 25th and returned by 5:00 pm on March 3rd which is the day of the election. This is a primary election which winnows down the number of candidates for many offices. The final election is November 3rd. You don't have to vote for the political party in which you registered. The Elections Office can explain that to you.

Those are just a few questions to think about as you select a candidate. Thank goodness we live in a democracy and have the right to vote in a hopefully honest election. Please remember that you are selecting a candidate not just for today. Focus on the future for your children and grandchildren. Please don't squander your vote or decide not to vote at all.