Lessons of autocrats
When one of my more advanced ESL students and I finished one of our study books, I suggested we tackle some kind of regular literature. We agreed on Horatio Alger's classic "Ragged Dick" (1868), written for youth. It's a simple rags-to-riches story about a very poor street-wise boy in New York City who rises to social respectability and success.
Alger lets us know that Dick isn't perfect, but he has a core characteristic that fuels his rise: He's unwaveringly honest and trustworthy. Dick rises to the top through his honesty.
Alger's story kept reminding me of the contrast we see in our world today. Autocracy is on the rise everywhere and democracy is on the ropes. Autocrats always trade in falsehoods. They practice what is commonly called "the firehose of falsehood." There are no better examples than Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, who daily fill the air with disinformation and call the truth "fake news." The Washington Post counted 30,573 lies that Trump told while in office. Yet a June 2019 Gallup poll revealed that 34 percent of Americans thought Trump was honest and trustworthy.
It would take a very long essay to unpack all of this. The lessons of history are clear. Autocrats never take their nations to a good place. Never.
It will be undeniable
I remember when the televised Watergate hearings began. I was newly 12, and not too politically savvy yet. The biggest impact on me was the interminable pre-empting of all those great game shows airing in the summer of '73.
Over the years, I learned much more about what was actually happening during those months. The truth was becoming unavoidable ... and undeniable. Support for Nixon plummeted as Americans could no longer deny what had happened, and who was behind it.
Nixon was done.
Soon, the House select committee investigating the failed insurrection on Jan. 6 will be holding public hearings. While today's myriad right-wing "news" outlets will offer those who simply can't (or won't) accept reality ample ideological refuge, the truth will nevertheless again become unavoidable ... and undeniable.
"What did the president know and when did he know it?"--Republican Sen. Howard Baker (Tennessee), 1973.
"I tend to repeat myself."--History, every day.
Money's ours anyway
Last Saturday's edition of the paper informed us of our governor's intention to turn down approximately 61 percent of the $146 million being offered to aid Arkansas families with rental assistance. Not only is this unnecessarily harsh for our people with pandemic-impacted needs, it makes no sense for those Arkansans who are fortunate enough to not be in need and behind on rent.
In essence, those of us in our great state who pay federal income taxes are being offered a rebate, in the form of $146 million earmarked to aid our neighbors with the greatest housing vulnerability. Which of us in our right minds would turn down the federal branch of government returning a portion of our own taxes to our state?
Our governor may be wanting to pass the fiscal conservative test for a possible presidential run, but this move fails a basic math test. Take the money. Asa.
Thanks for honesty
I'd like to send a big "Thank You" to Frank Duffy for his honesty in voicing the true feelings of the radical right. We are left to wonder what it is that disqualifies Black "leaders" like Chris Jones from participation in government. Is it the Ph.D.? I know that means he's smarter than most of us, and that would seem to be a minus based on what we see in Congress and our Legislature. His vision? According to his website, he wishes to promote emphasis on education at all levels, broadband for all Arkansans, supporting small businesses, quality health care, and good governance. It sounds to me as if the only disqualifying factor might be ... hmm ... skin color? Well, that and "Democrat."
It seems the main policy difference between Jones and radical-right Sarah is that she wishes to buy your vote by "phasing out" the income tax. Might that not lead to "defunding" police and other necessary services? Maybe she expects to ask the Feds to help out?
I also notice that Chris Jones tends to ignore those things that aren't things, such as CRT and teaching kids about "unnatural sexual practices." He feels it unnecessary to teach about hate and fear, leaving those subjects to the parents and their churches, who are good at it. The "platitudes" Jones espouses, equal education and equal opportunity, if fully implemented, should lead in the long run to less crime and less poverty, not only for minorities, but for all Arkansans, as we are all equal, right?
I say we can Keep America Great, and make it better, by teaching math, science, history, civics and grammar. Well, maybe not grammar ... we don't want our kids to feel bad about Mommy and Daddy not talking right ... ahem ... speaking correctly.
She spouts nonsense
Don't you wish you could believe all the nonsense Sarah Sanders spouts? The good fairy is going to wave a magic wand, eliminate our taxes and give us world-class schools at the same time! Are Arkansans really that gullible?
Maybe we should remember this is the same person who made a living out of lying for the most dishonest president in American history. Not really a good fairy; more like the Wicked Witch.