Opinion Pieces


Truth and clarity integral to politics and life August 19, 2013 by Richard Nelson

More than 600 pro-Morsi protesters lie dead in Cairo streets after Egypt’s military cleared two Muslim Brotherhood camps on Wednesday. Coptic churches were then attacked and burned—forty in the last three days. The violence has spread across Egypt in what amounts to a civil war, but nobody is calling it that.

Strangely, the Obama administration still claims that the July 3rd ouster of Egypt’s democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was not a coup. Really it was just a friendly game of Gin Rummy.  Capturing a president and suspending the constitution are just fun things that people like to do when they are bored. But don’t call it a coup. That would not even be in the ballpark of what really happened.  Nor would it have anything to do with $1.5 billion a year in aid we give to Egypt.

One wonders if the outcome might have been different had the Obama administration cut off funding when the law required it. It certainly couldn’t have gotten much worse. Just to be clear, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, prohibits aid to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état.” There is no provision for a presidential executive order to override the law, which quite clearly states that aid can only be restored when “a democratically elected government has taken office.” Can we agree that blood running in the streets is an indication that a democratically elected government is not yet in place?

In late July, a senior advisor to Barack Obama said “we will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say.” Another unnamed advisor relied on the Humpty Dumpty Reference Manual for Politicians and said "when this administration uses words, they mean just what we choose them to mean — neither more nor less." Or they will simply choose to not use a word at all.

Should the reader catch wind of a certain level of frustration in this piece, they’d be correct. When politicians play with the truth, we should all be a little miffed. When they skirt the law and contort reality to fit their personal objective, then someone should put the brakes on. And when our tax dollars are going to foreign regimes regardless of the law “because it is in our national interest,” we have been done a great disservice, but perhaps not so great a disservice and danger as has been perpetrated on Egyptian self-determination and the protestors. (Isn’t following the law in our national interest as well?). However much we might disagree with the protestors, they will now be considered martyrs and $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid is in the bloody mix.

Of course, one need not look to Washington to see that the Obama administration doesn’t have a monopoly on twisting facts to fit their policy preferences. Nor have they cornered the market on the consequences of bad policy decisions.  We have our share of examples in the Bluegrass. Two come to mind immediately.

On Monday, the General Assembly will convene in special session to redraw legislative district lines. The map should have been redrawn last year but failed to meet constitutional guidelines and was thrown out by a court. Another map proposed earlier in the year by House leadership was also unconstitutional and vindictive to the minority party. It carved up counties like a Thanksgiving turkey with the intent to eliminate six Republican incumbents. House speaker Greg Stumbo said they prepared the new districts with "a pure heart" without trying to be "punitive." Exactly what everyone was thinking… in Wonderland and Oz. Two more lawsuits followed.

Speaker Stumbo called Minority Leader Jeff Hoover’s recent district proposal a “dog and pony show,” before looking at it. The majority party is entitled to draw the map as they see fit, but they aren’t entitled to their own set of facts. Nor are Kentuckians Munchkins and expected to believe everything they’re told.

George Orwell warned that “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”  The depth of political insincerity will likely be on full display this Wednesday when the Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments in the instant racing case. Kentucky Downs is claiming that a video poker game called Yukon Willie’s Gold Rush is really about “historic horse races.” Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.  If placing a tiny two-second video of the end of a horse race on the poker machine makes it wagering on a “historic horse race,” then by golly it must be. But if it is, then anything is possible and perhaps Kentucky is just another place within some fairy tale. Such is the case when insincerity has triumphed over truth, and clarity is sacrificed to the gods of political expediency and power.
 



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