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Finding North Without a Compass

A retired Army officer and retired Fortune 500 executive, Warren may be best known for making waves while serving on the Mequon Common Council and Ozaukee County Board. He's no longer an elected official, but he has plenty to say about local, state and national issues.

 

ELECTION YEAR MANIA

If you haven’t noticed, every four years our country loses any connection with reality and all our sources of communication are filled with outright falsehoods, extreme exaggerations or downright stupidity over election issues. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat makes no difference – the mania virus is all consuming. Unfortunately here in Wisconsin we have suffered longer than the rest of the country what with the Madison protests and the recall election, but that hasn’t necessarily put a damper on local current irrational ravings. 

A good example is a letter writer in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who states that his vote is dependent on which party promises that their Congressional delegation will forgo their federal employee medical insurance plan coverages and " accepts their new Medicare plan as their sole coverage." Of course, Medicare coverage is by law only authorized for senior citizens 65 and older, which would eliminate most of Congress, but that doesn’t seem to have clicked with the writer. He obviously suffers from election year mania listening to all the conflicting political views of how to rescue Medicare from bankruptcy.  

Then there is our senatorial candidate Tammy Baldwin, who proudly trumpets in a TV ad that she has introduced legislation in the US Congress to require all millionaires to pay the same income tax rate as the rest of us. The basic question is, what is the income tax rate for the rest of us. Since about half of us do not pay any income taxes at all, that is zero percent. The other half is overwhelmingly made up of the middle class so that half probably averages a 14 percent tax rate. Therefore the combination of the two halves averages out about 7%. Is this the income tax rate Tammy Baldwin wants millionaires to pay?  I would assume that when she defines millionaires she really means those who earn over a million dollars annually, not those who earn considerably less, but by hard work and a saving mentality have accumulated a million dollars in assets. In any case, I am confident that those who earn over a million would do hand springs if their income tax rate were limited to 7% by her legislation. 

While we are on the subject, why is Tammy Baldwin obsessing over Tommy Thompson’s income tax returns, insisting they must be disclosed? Of course, she is just mouthing the party line regarding the same issue with Mitt Romney and his returns. When we file our federal income tax returns with the IRS we are assured of their confidentiality. We all know the IRS reviews returns up, down and sideways to insure correctness. Getting crosswise with the IRS is not a pleasant ordeal. We can all assume, therefore, that individual filers such as Tommy Thompson and Mitt Romney have met all the requirements of the laws of the land. Why then do they have to release their tax files? Obviously because opponents hope that something of an embarrassing nature might be revealed. Why not put the pressure on for candidates to release all their medical records?  Certainly the status of their health is vital in their ability to serve. In 1944 we learned, after the fact, that President Roosevelt was a dying man when running for his fourth term. Don’t you think the electorate should have been aware of his medical condition, as being far more important than his income tax return?

Another recent letter in the Journal Sentinel, authored by an individual who labeled herself as a former teacher of the year, claimed that Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s position is the elimination of Social Security. I couldn’t find anything anywhere to confirm that statement and classified it as a falsehood, but it did raise a question for me. The question is, do the editors of the Journal Sentinel (or any other media outlet) have any obligation to edit the letters they publish to eliminate what they know to be out-and-out falsehoods? Does freedom of speech (which does not permit falsely yelling fire in a crowded place) still knowingly allow publishing falsehoods in a public media outlet? Apparently it does, because editors constantly ignore that truism: "You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts."

Speaking of Paul Ryan, it was interesting to read a Journal Sentinel report on his background, headlined, "Gaps in Ryan’s resume." When I read the article it occurred to me that gaps in Ryan’s resume compared to President Obama’s gaps in his resume in 2008 was like comparing the width of an alleyway to the Grand Canyon. I wondered, where was the Journal Sentinel in 2008? Is this example of media liberal bias? You can decide.

Don’t think that this mania is limited to those that lean left. Just recently, I received an Email with a photo, that had gone through lots of Internet addresses, alleging that Michelle Obama embarrassed America by appearing at the London Olympics dressed in African clothing. Of course it was nonsense, as the picture was taken during her visit to South Africa not the Olympics. A check of Google showed pictures of her dressed appropriately at the London Olympics including a red, white and blue outfit. 

With the election heating up, we can expect Election Year Mania to increase and hit its peak in October. My advice, which I received from my Dad years ago, is appropriate for this time frame – "Believe nothing that you hear (written or spoken) and only half of what you see."   

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