Monday, January 28, 2013
We previously attempted to explore the issues of deceit and truthfulness in the context of the Mark McGwire steroid use story. More recently two other sports figures, a former Tour de France cycling champion and cancer survivor, and a college football star who claimed that his girlfriend (who he had never met) died from cancer, admitted that they deceived their fans and the public.
For some reason, the theoretical and practical attitudes of our readers toward cheating (which arguably is a form of deceit, of which "lying" is a subset) differed dramatically from the responses we received during our prior effort to delve into the issue of honesty. Consequently, we are re-visiting our original post on the subject to see whether athletes are held to a different standard than other members of society.
© 2009, 2010, and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
The Laughingman and the Logistician have been friends for years. The Laughingman has laughed out of loud at some of the Logistician’s antics.
He has also expressed bewilderment following comments by the Logistician, when there were highly desirable women in the room.
He would shake his head, and ask, “What in the world made you say that?” The Logistician would reply, “It’s the truth," which one would expect people to respect.
In case you haven’t figured out who is the more practical of the two, and who usually got the gal, there’s another Logistician story of note.
He once had this girlfriend, who was stunning in every aspect imaginable. One day, she asked him whether he loved her. He replied in a perfunctory fashion, “Why yes, dear.”
But then she followed by asking, “But do you love me?”
All of his male buddies have since said that all he had to do was to simply say, “Yes.” (Coincidentally, as have his female friends.) But he didn't.
His response, after pausing no less, was, “What’s the definition of the second love which distinguishes it from the first?”
Aphrodite then replied, “You know. Do you love me?”
The Logistician never managed to provide a satisfactory answer.
To all who later questioned the wisdom of his choice, he calmly stated, “I was placed in a situation where I was asked to respond to something I did not understand. For me to have said ‘yes’ would have been a lie, without a definition being provided.”
There is a logical explanation for this madness. You see, he was screwed up way early in life. Not only did he have traditional societal, familial, and religious forces suggesting that he always tell the truth, but he also attended West Point. The Honor Code there prescribed that he, “not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those that do.”
He has tried to apply that principle (minus the toleration part) to his life, albeit not always successfully. However, he’s tried.
One of his favorite quotes is from former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: “When you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good recollection of what you previously said.”
And so it was with a great deal of consternation that the Logistician recently found himself in a heated conversation with a valued friend of 35 years, as to the responses one should provide to senior citizen relatives whose mental faculties are declining.
The friend argued that “a game” should be played with the relative, since that provides comfort, and the truth need not be told. He said that it was “unnecessary.”
The friend also extended this reasoning to raising young children.
The next day, the Logistician shared this exchange with another mutual friend of 35 years. She suggested that the truth can shatter someone’s delicate perception of the world, and promptly supported the position of the first friend.
It made him wonder whether there are ends sufficiently important to justify out right lying. He also wondered whether there are dangers, so “clear and present,” to support such action.
He thought about this a lot during the recent presidential campaigns: Is winning more important than telling the truth?
(Frankly, we’ve reached a point in our society where many aren’t quite sure what to believe from some purported news sources anymore.)
Back to the Logistician, he has always contended that when asked a specific question, he is required to provide a truthful response.
On occasion, he has recognized the value of silence, or momentary evasiveness, by posing, “Do you really want to ask that question?”
Many would argue that in cases of national security, it is appropriate to lie. But is it really?
Some others would also argue that when you have a confidential relationship with someone, it is appropriate to lie, to those outside of that relationship.
And then there was our former President who only lied about sex.
If there are so many instances where it is appropriate, then when is it inappropriate to lie? (Apparently one can not lie if one is using performance enhancing drugs in a competitive athletic sport.)
Back to kids, is suggesting to a child that there is a Santa Claus, the Easter Bunnie, or the Tooth Fairy, a lie?
And what about that dying parent? Are lies appropriate at the death bed? What about the case of a patient who has terminal cancer, with only a short time to live?
If Congress poses a question to a member of the CIA, is the operative required to always provide the truth? Was Oliver North justified in lying to Congress about Iran-Contra?
Or was Jack Nicholson correct in A Few Good Men, when he said that, "[We] can’t handle the truth?”
P.S. By the way, you’re right. The Logistician is not very bright, and he lied. He did not provide 27 situations.
© 2009, 2010, and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
Should you desire to examine the comments from our readers the first time that we broached this subject, click here.
Monday, January 21, 2013
© 2011 and 2013, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
We considered calling this piece, What Would Dr. King Do?, or What Would Dr. King Think?
Frankly, none of them would be really appropriate, since none of us has any first hand knowledge of his thought process, or even a comprehensive appreciation of his view of the world.
For example, most think that Dr. King adopted Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy on his own. Yet, many involved in the movement contend that it was actually Bayard Rustin who counseled Dr. King to adopt non-violence as his MO.
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that after having his home and family threatened, Dr. King grabbed a rifle on his way to confront his attackers on the front lawn.
Rustin supposedly stopped Dr. King in mid-stride and suggested how to get the upper hand on his attackers, that being to take the higher moral ground - less subject to attack.
Per Rustin, resorting to a tactic that placed the good doctor in the same violence stratum as his attackers only served to hurt the cause, and make it less likely that others would side with him (defense of his castle be justified or not).
On this past MLK Day, those of you fortunate enough not to have become infected with that virus commonly known as Twitter [which should be changed to “Twitcher”], would have been amazed at the volume of thought-provoking MLK quotes posted by “kids” of every imaginable color, age, country, and station in life.
But two situations or events, both featuring the NAACP, kept bothering us.
Why the NAACP? [That’s exactly what we asked.] Because, in theory, one might think that their positions and the interests advocated by Dr. King would bear some resemblance to one another. In both instances, we’re just not sure what was going on. [Plus, we recognize that only certain racial groups are monolithic.]
The first involved something seemingly innocuous as school snow make-up days.
In many districts around the country, schools are required to end their year by a certain date. Most states also require that a school year consist of a certain number of days. Because of severe snow storms, many districts found themselves trying to discover make-up days on the calendar.
Some announced that they were “considering” having their charges attend school on MLK Day. The NAACP, in virtually every region where such a plan was “considered,” shifted into Sharpton-Jackson mode. [Where is a Michael Steele or an Alan Keyes when you need one?]
We need not even explore the substance of their arguments. Many prominent in the black community even suggested that parents keep their kids home. [That’ll show them.]
But it occurred to us, what better day to spend the time in school, reflecting on all that Dr. King represented, and all that he valued?
What better opportunity for black folks to consider the importance of, or show the outside world how much they value, that education thang?
What better day to suggest and support the extension of the school week to Saturdays, or the school year into the summer?
What would Dr. King have said, or done?
The second situation involved the Governor of Maine. This maverick of a politician was invited to participate in an NAACP celebration in memory of Dr. King, and he declined. [Uh, oh…!]
When questioned further about it, he simply said that there are only so many special interest events that one man can attend in a 24 hour day.
He further suggested that if someone thought that his declination was racially motivated, they could “kiss his butt.” [At least he has the balls to tell some group to kiss his rear end.] He finally alluded to the fact that all one needed to do was examine his family portrait, and they would find that he has a black [adopted] son.
Once again, the local NAACP went ballistic, and suggested that whether he had a black son was irrelevant. [Any of those NAACP folks have any white sons?]
Once again, we asked what would Dr. King have said, or done?
Of course, we don’t know. But we have a guess.
As great as all of the quotes posted on Twitter were, there was one missing that may reflect how he might have reacted.
On Monday night, we watched a tape of one of Dr. King’s speeches at the close of an MSNBC segment. During it, he said:
“We must conduct our struggle on the high plain of dignity and discipline.”
Did the NAACP heed his word?
You be the judge.
P.S. Yeah, we know. This was not a very dignified post.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Today, we received an e-mail from the New York Times indicating that the House of Representatives had rejected an effort to increase the federal debt limit. The article was entitled, “Pressing Obama, House Bars Rise in Debt Ceiling.”
Many welcomed the event, and argued that it was a repudiation of the President’s efforts to transform our nation into a socialist state during a period of global economic stagnation, brought on solely by his Administration’s economic policies.
Apparently the President didn’t take the message very well, since he was seen cruising various D.C. bars.
According to Tim Teetotaler, at The Speakeasy in DuPont Circle, this was not the first time that the President visited his bar late at night. Confirming rumors, he said the President is typically accompanied by a female ostrich. The bartender went on to relate his first encounter with Obama.
On that occasion, the President said, "I'll have a beer; in fact the same brand of beer that was sent to the White House for the Harvard Professor – Cambridge Cop Beer Summit last year.” The bartender then turned to the ostrich, and asked, "What about you?"
"I'll have a beer too," said the ostrich, while the Secret Service detail surveyed the room, concerned about what observers might think about the President hanging out with a bird not native to America, and other than the American Bald Eagle.
The bartender claims that he served the pair and the tab was $6.40. The President turned to his trusted military aide carrying the “Nuclear Football,” and said, “Willy, reach into the side pocket of the satchel and pull out whatever money is there.”
Pursuant to the President’s instructions, the aide retrieved all of the money, which amounted to exactly $6.40.
The bartender claims that he next saw the President and the ostrich on the night when US forces successfully located and eliminated Osama bin Laden. The President ordered Champagne this time - a glass of 2010 Armand de Brignac.
The ostrich said she would have the same. After they completed their drinks, the bill amounted to $47.83. The President once again turned to Willy, asked to him to reach into the side pocket of the satchel, and pull out all the money. Willy, according to the bartender, pulled out exactly $47.83.
After the bin Laden mission, this became a regular, nightly routine, and whenever the bartender saw the two approaching, he simply asked, "The usual?" On each occasion, Willy took care of the tab by simply reaching into the pocket. Even when the price of the Champagne increased, the aide still pulled out the exact amount needed, even though he was not informed of the increase.
According to Teetotaler, last night following the House vote, a despondent President came in, and ordered Sauza Blue Reposado.
"Same for me," said the ostrich, with a subdued tone and a Southern drawl.
"That will be $29.20," said the bartender.
Once again the aide pulled out the exact change.
The bartender thought that since the President’s guard might be down, it might be a good time to address his curiosity about the President having just enough money in the pocket to match the amount of the bill.
"Excuse me, Mr. President, but may I ask perhaps an impertinent question?” “Sure,” replied the President.
“How does your aide manage to always come up with the exact change for your bill out of the side pocket of that satchel, every single time?"
“First of all, let it be clear that although the taxpayers pick up the tab for my drinks, they do not pay for the ostrich’s. But to get to the crux of your question, several years ago I was cleaning the attic with Michelle and the girls, and found an old Middle Eastern lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me four wishes, three of which I made in a family, group setting.”
“My first wish was that I be elected President when the nation was in a perilous state, so that I could prove how effective a smart guy could really be as President.”
“My second wish was that if I, or the nation, ever needed to pay for anything, I could just put my hand in the side pocket of the satchel containing the Nuclear Football, and sufficient funds would be there."
"That's brilliant!" said the bartender. "Most people would wish for a specific amount of money, but you'll be as rich as you want for as long as you live!"
"Well, so one would think,” said the President. “Whether it was a gallon of milk, a new home in Hyde Park, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or MediCare, the exact money was always there," said the President.
"That's fantastic!" said the bartender. "It’s clear why they call you 'The Anointed One.'”
“Not so fast my friend. My third wish was that I locate and eliminate Osama bid Laden during my first term.”
The bartender said, “Sir, obviously you are on a roll. But you’ve been more than generous in sharing with me things which are obviously personal in nature; consequently I would not dare ask about the fourth wish, which you did not share with your family.”
“But there's one thing I still don't understand. What's with the ostrich?"
According to the bartender, the President replied "I was afraid that you would ask that. My fourth wish was for a chick with long legs."
The bartender commiserating with the President, and trying to switch the subject said, “I heard about your defeat in the House earlier today. Obviously that is what drove to you to order this very potent tequila.”
The President responded, “That’s the least of my concerns. The House vote suggests that Rupert Murdoch finally got to the Genie, who cancelled my unlimited funds capabilities. But that’s just a political problem, which a sharp politician can handle.”
“I’m drinking tequila because I can’t figure out how to explain the ostrich to Michelle, and Bill Clinton has been absolutely no help at all.”
© 2011 and 2013, the Institute for Applied Common Sense (Well sorta, some of this is in the public domain).
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