The Edmond Sun


July 3, 2014

HEY HINK: Dissenters from all sides should read Hobby Lobby ruling fully before judging

LOS ANGELES — This May, the Crown Publishing Group published Timothy Geithner’s book, “Stress Test,” which covers some aspects of his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration. One episode he covers relates to the prep he received from Dan Pfeiffer prior to Geithner’s appearance on a series of Sunday TV talk shows. At the time, Pfeiffer was President Obama’s senior advisor.

During that prep, Pfeiffer encouraged Geithner to suggest to the American public that Social Security was not a contributor to the nation’s deficit even though Geithner believed this position to be untrue. In explaining why Geithner should say it anyway, Pfeiffer explained that the phrase was, “… a dog whistle to the left.” In Geithner’s words, this was “… a phrase I’d never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.”

Like Geithner, I’d never heard that “dog whistle” phrase used in that sense. After doing some research, I discovered it’s an old device that’s been employed by political operatives for decades. Of course, over the years, I’ve observed a tendency for political activists of all stripes to attach labels to people and arguments with the aim of short-circuiting any fair hearing for opponents or any reasonable consideration of opposing viewpoints.

At one time, being labeled a “lefty,” a “pinko,” a “socialist,” or “a communist” effectively relegated you do a category that relieved opposing partisans of the obligation to take you seriously or consider the possible merit of your viewpoint.

Today, anyone who speaks against Israeli government policies that violate U.N. resolutions runs the risk of being labeled as “anti-semitic.” No one cares what an anti-semitic has to say.

Anyone open-minded about possible restrictions on the availability of assault weapons is tagged an enemy of the Second Amendment. Rabid partisans feel no obligation to listen to anyone who hates the Second Amendment.

Anyone uncomfortable with or in open opposition to abortion is aggressively grouped with misogynists. Of course, there can be no defendable moral support for misogyny.

Anyone offering arguments in support of legalized abortion is lumped together with slave owners and perpetrators of genocide. There’s no room on the planet for accommodation with such as these.

We’ve seen and heard provocateurs slam any opponent of President Obama’s as a defender and purveyor of racism.

It might be argued that the most destructive dynamic operating across the face of America’s body politic is the willingness to respond to these unspoken but heavily freighted messages like well-trained dogs predictably answering the whistle.

The sad and frightening fact is political manipulators wouldn’t use these devices if they didn’t work. If Americans penalized all shameless political partisans for engaging in intellectually unsupportable hyperbole and outright lies, we might see discussions of important issues elevated to a point where we and our politicians make rational decisions rather than “feel good, overly manufactured and thoroughly massaged reactions to cynically orchestrated dog whistles.”

I thought about this as I observed the incredible emotional furor erupting on the heels of the Supreme Court’s holding in the Hobby Lobby case. Let’s be honest. There were credible arguments on both sides. No matter which arguments were most persuasive to you, there were honest, sincere, well-meaning people who held a bona fide belief in the superior merit of the other side.

But then there were some who did nothing more than respond to the predictable “dog whistle.” For example, I actually heard a commentator say that President Obama had launched the most aggressive attack on religious freedom in history. This statement is too ridiculous to dignify with a response. So far as I know, no religious believers have been burned at the stake during this administration. On the other hand, I heard seemingly respectable politicians state publicly that this decision would prevent Hobby Lobby clerks from obtaining birth control. This, too, is an outrageous lie.

For the sake of us all, before anyone gets hysterical about this ruling, read it. Don’t fall for the bloated rhetoric that predicts this opinion will open the door to imposition of Sharia law in the work place. It won’t. Don’t fall for the exaggerated alarm being shouted by professional scare mongers that this will deprive Hobby Lobby employees of access to birth control. It won’t. There are already forces at work seeking to treat their “base” as a pack of mindless dogs ready to add their yapping to the slavish pack. We all have an obligation to review the facts and think for ourselves. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

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  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
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