Last week while most Americans were fretting about the oil spill and a change in personnel, the Supreme Court of the United States was looking (askance) at Section 18 of the US Code and the results of their ruling may let some high profile prisoners walk free in the sunshine sooner than expected.
The broad implication of the decision might give Republicans more latitude in making reality gelatinous. Democrats hold themselves to a higher standard and won't be inclined to indulge in any chance to avail themselves of the possibility to find some wriggle room regarding the issue concerning an opportunity to "deprive another of the intangible right to honest services."
Some people might assume with all the laws about fraud and a certain religious commandment that there is, in any business dealing, an implicit right to honest services.
Wrong! Does the reverse corollary apply? Do Republicans now know that they have an intangible right to deliver dishonest service? When a Republican candidate for office says that he (hypothetical example) had the training to be an F-102 pilot does that mean that he actually was one?
We know a fellow whose identity revolves around his training and expertise in the martial arts. He will often drop the fact that he taught Bruce Lee into the conversation. Often it comes right after he has listed his qualifications for being an authority on the martial arts. He does not say what he taught Mr. Lee and so if he taught Bruce Lee to change a tire on his car and you leap to the assumption that the fellow taught Lee everything he knew about karate, the misperception is your fault because you have made an assumption.
Recently we picked up a bargain copy of the book which was the basis for the move "Catch Me If You Can." The book was a bit different from the movie hence the movie carried the tag line: "based on a true story."
The author, Frank Abignale, would ask people "can you cash a check for me?" and then present a slip of paper which was not a genuine check. Since when is a question a lie?
Do you want the evidence to be in the form of a mushroom cloud? Since the invasion of Iraq, it has become the custom to refer to hand grenades as weapons of mass destruction. If you didn't realize that it was necessary to invade oil rich Iraq because they had hand grenades, that was your own fault for not being a weapons expert and fully able to parse the talking points offered as sound logical reasons for invading Iraq. Little did America realize that the Bush team was composed of cunning linguists dead set on going to war.
In ethics class, students are presented with the concept of "the greater good." Suppose a man who wanted to kill you entered (another hypothetical) your office and informed your secretary that he wanted to see you so that he could kill you. Should she say that you called in sick today, point to the inner office where you work, or should she use the intercom to ask if you could squeeze an unscheduled visitor into your schedule? Some ethics experts say that the greater good of saving your life outweighs the obligation to adhere to the Commandment that gives the flat fiat that you must always tell the truth.
So it's OK to lie sometimes and the Supreme Court has rendered the concept of "deprive another of the intangible right to honest services" moot; so truth, justice and the American way have just seen one of the team go missing in action.
The headline for this column asks a question. We have presented several relevant items for your consideration and now invite you to draw your own conclusions . . . or . . . you can wait and see if the Republicans act as if they have a God-given right to lull you into adoring acquiescence.
Americans have no right to know what went on in the meeting between Dick Cheney and the energy companies. Americans have no right to know how the programs used in the electronic voting machines work. Americans have no right to know what BP is doing or plans to do regarding the oil spill. As a matter of fact, Americans have no right to go to public parks and see the oil spill clean up work being done. It would seem that other than being used to print the coming tsunami of corporate financed campaign ads, America has no want or need for a free press to keep citizens informed so that they can vote intelligently.
It would also seem that the Supreme Court based their decision on the old folk wisdom: "After you shake hands with a Republican, count your fingers."
Cynical curmudgeons will continue to regard all politicians as they would a snake oil salesman as portrayed by W. C. Fields. Dittoheads will be the first to second the Charles Dickens Republican attitude of "God bless us every one." (Was Dickens predicting Uncle Rushbo when he wrote: "He is an honorable, obstinate, truthful, high-spirited, intensely prejudiced, perfectly reasonable man." in Bleak House?)
Perhaps it is time to change the motto on money from "In God We Trust" to "Caveat Emptor."
Rudyard Kipling was ahead of his time when he wrote