Tag Archives: Tom Reed

Words, Part 1

“In the beginning was the word…” so begins the Bible followed by both Christians and Jews.  In Hindu mythology, the word “Om or Aum” is the first sound of creation. The Qu’ran is thought to be the word of Allah by Muslims. Members of the Church of Later Day Saints believe that Joseph Smith of upstate New York was given the words of god on golden tablets.

Words are important. Of all the species still on Earth, it is homo sapiens alone that uses speech to communicate sophisticated ideas. Other animals use sounds to express fear and danger and affection and contentment. Chimps use signs and sounds. Bonobos have been taught to use symbolic language to express complete ideas. Some other primates even use sign language to communicate when hunting in groups. There is something in the DNA of primates that demands communication. We are all social animals.

Words are important.

Primates use body language and words to communicate. The key word is “communicate”. Communication does not necessarily mean that a human or other primate is interested in communicating the truth.

For example, we have evidence that when some Rhesus monkeys see food they call out to others and share it. Once in awhile, however, a monkey will keep quiet or even give a false predator warning cry to distract from the food source. They lie. They communicate something which is false. Then they sneak the food for themselves.

We depend on words. When someone lies to us it becomes very difficult to trust them again. When someone misuses words (that is lies) under oath, we consider them criminals. Even presidents. Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican Congress for lying.

He was not impeached for having an affair. He was not impeached for any illegal financial dealings. The 4 year long investigation of Bill Clinton and his wife’s finances (Whitewater) found nothing illegal. The Starr investigation after spending mllions of dollars  found no criminal behavior based on the original mandate, which was to look at the Clinton land deals.

Both articles of impeachment against Clinton dealt not with any financial wrongdoing, but the fact that he lied about his sex life when under oath.  You may wonder why the Starr investigation was expanded into his sex life, but that is another matter. A corruption charge was never supported, but his lies about his sex life were considered important enough to expel him from the presidency. So, he was impeached for words he said.

Our current president has , according to the factchecker at the Washington Post, told over 2,000 lies and misstatements in less than his first year in office. Over 2,000 documented examples of intentional miscommunication. Since he is not under oath, none of those lies are actionable under the law. But that degree of miscommunication may be one reason why he has an approval rating below 40% in most polls.

When words are used for miscommunication then the very idea of language becomes damaged. Language is supposed to be a positive force through which we convey ideas and beliefs and emotions in an honest way. When language is exploited regularly to miscommunicate it leads to a general distrust of any communication. When words are used as weapons, rather than tools of honest communication, all language becomes suspect.

We see attacks on the press, attempting to delegitimize the one institution which is based on words. Honest words. ( I deal with this in another post a year ago: https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/lugenpresse-testing-the-waters/)

Politicians, of course, depend completely on words. When they lie by misstatements or omission to intentionally deceive people it is especially disturbing. We see them lie most often when the facts and evidence do not support their assertions. A good example is the reemergence of the supply side economics which failed miserably under Mr Bush. Tax breaks for the wealthy to boost jobs. It just does not happen, but that does not stop the lying.

My own Congressman, Tom Reed, NY 29 is especially adept at the half truth and miscommunication. He miscommunicated not only his own views (as seen by his actions) but impugns his political opponents by lying about their views as well. And he is very good at it. So he gets re-elected.

So, while “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is true on the playground, it is not true in politics. Words are the core of politics because they are used to convince others to act.

We currently live in an era where those with the most political power are determined to stay in power through miscommunication. Not by the power of their ideas.  Not by the benefits to the people derived by their actions. But by miscommunicating to such an extent that even 2,000 lies a year does not bother them.

Next time I will look at the variety and scope of the miscommunication, the misuse of words, by those currently in power.

 

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090615-monkeys-lie-food.html

https://books.google.com/books?id=pEuVe5zT-4cC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq=rhesus+monkeys+food+lies&source=bl&ots=-A5bfEwk2c&sig=O1nv-XXYhQ78i5HQpx2hrNFXrzc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimo8G74tzYAhWDUd8KHYalBlgQ6AEIUDAL#v=onepage&q=rhesus%20monkeys%20food%20lies&f=false

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/articles122098.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/10/president-trump-has-made-more-than-2000-false-or-misleading-claims-over-355-days/?utm_term=.dc90a42256a8

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Mr Reed on the Backs of our Children

My Congressman is Tom Reed of NY-29. A staunch Trump supporter and one of the key members of the Ways and Means Committee responsible for the GOP tax bill. I called his office at 10:30 this morning and spoke with one of his staff members for 15 minutes. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I received.

Q. How many expert Congressional hearings has Mr Reed attended?

A. Don’t know exactly. There have been a few. Also he is on Ways and Means which had some hearings.

Q. Has Mr Reed read the entire bill, all 1000 pages ?

A. Yes. He has read the entire bill.

Q. Does Mr Reed gain financially from this bill, in the sense of the “Corker Kickback”? Any specific provisions which help him?

A. Do not know. Thinks not, however.

Q. According to some analyses, over the next 10 years 83% of the tax benefits go to the top 5% of people and corporations. Why does Mr Reed think the top earners need a break more than the bottom 95%?

A. Not familair with that analysis so can’t speak to it. The idea is to be pro-growth which will create jobs.

My follow up: Isn’t that what George Bush tried and it did not create jobs, called supply side?

A. Would not characterize it. Not familiar enough with the Bush plan to respond.

Q. The tax law keeps in place giving tax credits for taxes paid abroad. Doesn’t this discourage companies from creating jobs in the US if they can continue to take an overseas tax credit?

A. Is not familar with this provision. Can’t answer.

My follow up: If you want job creation at home wouldn’t it be better to tie any tax breaks to spending on jobs in the USA? Make job creation in the US a requirement for getting the tax break?

A. Will pass on my idea to the Congressman.

Q. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that 10,000,000 lower income  families would get an increase in the child tax care credit of $75 a year. That amounts to an increase of 50 cents a day. Is this a good increase for poor people raising children?

A. The child credit remains and has been increased so poor families get a $2,000 tax credit, which in an increase. And they can get $1,400 in taxes returned.  

Q. On April 15, 2011 when Mr Obama was president, Mr Reed released this statement: “We are borrowing $58,000 per second on the backs of our children and grandchildren… Reducing spending and getting the national debt under control in the single most important issue…. Trillions of private dollars sit on the sidelines waiting to see if we are serious about reducing the deficit and paying down our debt….” Has Mr Reed changed his mind abut the deficit?

A. We are concerned about the deficit and debt. We are pro-growth and Mr Reed is concerned about spending.

Follow up: What specific spending does he want to cut?

A. Can’t answer.

The staff member, who was very polite and patient with me said he would try to contact others who could answer my questions.

Mr Reed used to be concerned about expanding deficits. Evidently he has concluded that our children have strong backs. They are going to need them.

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Movie Review: The Three Faces of Reed

(Reblogged from Siskil and Egbert’s Movie Reviews.)

A review of “The Three Faces of Reed”, (a remake of “The Three Faces of Eve”) newly released in the NY 23rd Congressional District.

Starring Jason Alexander (George Costanza of the Seinfeld TV series) as the inimitable, playful and sometimes a little off-center Congressman of NY’s 23 Congressional District, Tom Reed.

This film is set almost entirely in the psychiatric offices of an anonymous shrink in the Southern Tier of New York state. The shrink takes the Congressman back in time through hypnosis (since he cannot otherwise remember what he said or to whom he said it). It is a fascinating study of multiple personality disorder, otherwise know as PAU complex (Politics As Usual).  Jason Alexander does a wonderful job  (an Academy Award nomination is in the works,  I do believe) of portraying a politician who is able to assume different personalities almost at will. A man, who is short, balding and stubby but sees himself as tall, rugged and tough.

There is the (in his mind) tall, rugged, no nonsense, strong-jawed Congressman who is wined and dined by ALEC, the Hydrofracking industry and the NRA. He makes it clear to these lobbyists that he is at their beck and call. For example, a scene in which a widow  sits outside his office waiting for an appointment to see him about his vote to destroy the ACA.

(Scene:) Widow sitting quietly as secretary gazes into a computer screen. Muffled noises from the inner office slowly become louder and more distinct.

“Yes sir. …..Yes , sir…..Yes , sir……. Whatever you say , sir……. Of course, sir……. Just leave the bill on my desk and I will sponsor it…Yes, sir….Yes,  sir….Yes, sir…Oh, no need for that….Well,  if you insist…Thank  you so much , sir….Yes, sir… ”

Three middle aged men,  wearing Armani suits, emerge from the office, glance and sneer at the widow and give each other high fives. “He belongs to us, no doubt about it”. (End of scene)

Then there is the Constitutional scholar whose career as a mortgage broker has made him an expert on the Constitution, foreign affairs and women’s physiology. Another scene from the movie illustrates this Tea Party personality.

(Scene): The Congressman is standing in front of a group of carefully selected “constituents” and delivering one of his most profound and thoughtful speeches. Reed sees himself as 6 foot 5 inches tall and wearing an American flag draped over his shoulder as he peers, steely-eyed, into the carefully selected crowd.

“Founding fathers. 2nd amendment. Safe Act unconstitutional, I don’t care what the courts say. (applause) Obamacare BAD, unconstitutional.(thunderous applause) I  don’t care what the courts say. Heroes. We need to do more for our heroes. Our Veterans. (applause and standing ovation) We need to give them better care. We need to stop spending tax dollars on health care.(applause) We need to give our heroes better health care. Stop spending tax dollars on pork. I brought millions of dollars of federal aid to NY. We need to eliminate pork.

I support health care for our females. Stop Planned Parenthood. (standing ovation, thunderous applause, Star Spangled Banner playing in background) No more funding for abortions.  Not on my watch. Stop funding services for women. We need better health care for our women. Stop Obamacare. Keep government out of our lives. Make abortion illegal.   No more welfare. (applause) Love the unborn. End welfare for children. End birth control. 2nd amendment. No deal with Iran. No nukes for Iran. Nuke Iran. (thunderous applause along with a few “Heehaws”)Founding fathers. OK. Gotta go now”. (End of scene)

Then there is the third personality. The moderate. The sensible Mr Reed who only wants to do what is best for all of us.

(Scene): The Congressman appears at a photo op at the opening of a new gas station.

” I support small business. I love small business. I love America. I support women’s rights. I support sensible government. I support the flag and America. I think we can do better. We need to do better. I support those who support doing better. We can do better if we can only strive to do better. Liberty for all.  Let’s do better together. Together we can do better. Is that better? Don’t be scared. I really mean it (wink)” (end of scene).

So, who emerges at the end of the movie when all the personalities are finally joined? Will it be the “you wash my back and I’ll  wash yours” politician in the pocket of the fossil  fuel industry and the NRA? Will it be the Tea Party crazy who can’t decide if he wants to destroy health care for the poor, scuttle the arms deal  with Iran  and take away a woman’s right to choose or all of the above? Or will it be the smooth talking, say nothing,  do nothing , just get re-elected politician who has no real values or ethics?

We won’t tell you the ending. In the original film it was said that Eve and her personalities were finally joined. But a few years later she again disintegrated back into the multiple state. (Now called DID “Dissociative Identity Disorder”).So, she was never “cured” of her affliction.

What will happen to the Congressman in the end? Will his true personality ever emerge? Stay tuned. This reviewer suspects that there is a very lucrative lobbying career on the horizon at the end of the Hyrdofracking Rainbow for one of those personalities….

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Filed under ACA, Foreign policy, GOP, government, healthcare, Iran, Iran agreement, Neoconservative, nuclear weapons, Obamacare, Politics, right to life, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, tea party

Congressman Reed’s Misinformantion

I  receive “communications” from my representative in Congress, Mr. Reed (R-NY) , fairly regularly. Which is good. I  like to see what he is up to.  One of his jobs as a Congressman is to keep folks “informed”. I guess. Which is why I always look for information in his literature.  And looking for information in his mailings is like a Where’s Waldo problem.
Two Examples:
Example 1: A postcard he sent telling me he opposes Obamcare’s cuts to senior citizens, specifically cuts to Medicare. This sounds pretty awful, especially since I am soon to be joining the Medicare system. I certainly don’t want the government cutting MY BENEFIT!. I mean, we have to cut somewhere, but not ME!
The postcard had a pretty specific figure of $300 billion dollars. A very big cut to my benefits. Obama wants to cut MY BENEFITS  by $300,000,000,000. Not anything to sneeze at.
So I called Mr Reed’s office and talked to a very nice lady. I asked her what programs were being cut by Obamacare. $300 billion is a lot of programs that old folks are going to lose. She was pleasant enough and tried to answer, but couldn’t.  She explained that they had no SPECIFIC information on that topic. Took my name and phone number so the Congressman could get back to me with an answer. . Two weeks ago. Never heard from them since.
Example 2: An email arrived telling me how Mr. Reed was opposing Obamacare because of the new “full-time” work provision. According to the email, people who work 30 hours a week are now considered full time. And this is a travesty. An outrage.
It will hurt working families. They will make less money. So, Mr. Reed is sponsoring a bill to make the 40 hour work week the law of the land.
I called Mr Reed’s office. I talked to a very nice young man. Again, he was pleasant but could not answer some of my questions. Does Obamacare mean that people can work ONLY 30 hours ? Can’t they work more if they and their employer want them to? Wasn’t this “30 hour” provision put in so companies could not make someone work, say, 39 hours and then claim they were part-time, hence not covered by the law? What is the real problem here?
Once again, these basic, common sense questions could not be answered. I almost felt sorry for these staff members who are forced to try to explain these silly bits of misinformation put out by the Congressman.
Conclusion: It is one thing to be against the ACA for legitimate reasons.  And back  it up with evidence. It is quite another to spread misinformation and partial, selective  information to try to undermine the law. People deserve ACCURATE information. If Mr Reed opposes the ACA, as he does, then why stoop to a low level of shenanigans? He should be ashamed of these types of mailings. I am sure there are real weaknesses in the law, but when Congressmen spread misinformation about it, it leads one to question ANYTHING they say in their literature.

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