The Edmond Sun

Opinion

August 2, 2013

God forbid Americans let scandals go away

EDMOND — Years ago, Abraham Lincoln made a common-sense point about word games. We’d be wise to revisit the idea today. “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have? It’s got four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” In Lincoln’s day, unscrupulous statisticians, politicians and stock traders might have their own reasons for wanting to include tails in the leg count. But Mr. Lincoln cautions us not to fall for such tricks. It’s up to us to keep our eyes on the facts and not be taken in by deceptive labels.

I’ve been thinking about Lincoln’s remark this week as the term “phony scandal” is making the rounds of political speeches and headlines. Use of the term begs the question: If you call Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservative groups, Department of Justice targeting of journalists and the Attorney General’s misleading statements to Congress “phony scandals,” how many phony scandals are plaguing this administration? One wonders how President Lincoln would do the math.

Let’s allow for the possibility there may be honest differences of opinion concerning how many legs a horse has. Maybe we can come to agreement if we return to first principles and refer to definitions. But let’s be honest. The discussion sinks into unproductive oblivion if we can’t get past the definition of “what ‘is’ is.”

Let’s start by asking what is a “phony?” We know that phony people are guilty of making a false show. They’re hypocritical and specious. They’re insincere and pretentious. We know that something is phony if it is not genuine; if it’s intended to deceive or mislead; if it’s dishonest. There is, unfortunately, no shortage of phonies in the political arena today. There are men and women who hold themselves out as people of upright character committed to conscientious public service when, in reality, they are deceitful self-promoters eager to make any disgraceful deal, take any unscrupulous action or spew any shameful falsehood that meets the political needs of the moment. We all know what a phony is.

As for the definition of “scandal,” this is a state of affairs regarded as wrong or reprehensible causing general public outrage or anger. It isn’t hard to come up with examples of recent situations satisfying this definition. Occupants of high office who lie under oath, look the American people in the eye and tell outright falsehoods about their sexual infidelities, public officials who take lewd liberties with subordinates and expect the taxpayers to pick up the tab for their misbehavior, candidates for public office who are shameless liars posing as victims when their despicable behavior is discovered, then assume the role of penitents, and finally presenting themselves as heroes. Public servants brazenly “living it up” on taxpayer dollars. You get the idea.

Equipped now with an understanding of what a “phony” is and what a “scandal” is, let’s make a count. Obviously, there’s nothing phony about the tragedy in Benghazi. At this point, we still don’t know who ordered relief forces to “stand down,” which left brave Americans fighting for their lives for hours in an ultimately losing battle. Deserting them on the battlefield like this was wrong and reprehensible. It only becomes a phony scandal if there’s no public outrage. If the American people come to the view this is acceptable behavior by their government, then it does become a phony scandal — God forbid.

At this point, we know that hundreds of conservative groups were targeted by the IRS and intentionally hamstrung through two election cycles. We still don’t have the name of the highest governmental official who knew and approved of this conduct. The use of powerful governmental bureaus to interfere with and intimidate law-abiding American citizens is wrong and reprehensible. It only becomes a phony scandal if there is no public outrage. If the American people are prepared to shrug their shoulders and let this pass, then it does become a phony scandal — God forbid.

The Attorney General of the United States testified under oath before Congress that he knew nothing about Department of Justice targeting of media representatives as potential criminal defendants. In fact, he himself signed a warrant indicating that a prominent reporter was, in fact, a potential criminal co-conspirator. If the American people are prepared to suffer this level of dissemination from the highest federal law enforcement officer in the land, it does become a phony scandal — God forbid.

If we’re foolish enough to be sold on the idea that a tail is a leg, we have no one but ourselves to blame if we get fleeced.

I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • 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 www.edmondsun.com 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

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results