TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Civil, Friendly Discussion Still Needs To Be Based On Facts

Sometimes a friend can jolt you into his reality. I was having that kind of conversation with a lifelong friend … someone with whom I rarely discuss politics. I didn’t know what his politics were until we had this talk. My wake-up call was loud and clear.

Before I get into the subject, I think it’s best to validate my claim that I vote for the person I deem best qualified without regard to their political party. Here’s my record:

My first vote went to John F. Kennedy in 1960, followed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964; Humphrey in 1968; Nixon 1972; Carter in 1976 and 1980; Mondale 1984; George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992; Clinton in 1996; Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and Obama in 2008 and 2012; In 2016, I definitely did NOT vote for Donald J. Trump. Some of my votes went Republican, and some Democratic; obviously, I did not pick winners in every case.

Back to last week. What brought things to a head with my old friend was my saying some unflattering things about Trump. He replied, “Obama lied every time he opened his mouth.” He told me he believed nothing that he said.

I’ve heard many reasons why some did not like POTUS 44 (Obama), but lack of truth was not one of them. I countered that 45 (Trump) is a proven liar. You can go to any news source — radio, TV, print, the Internet — and find all kinds of his statements that have been absolutely false. He questioned Obama’s birth certificate; he insisted he received not only the most Electoral College votes (true) but also the most popular votes (false). He claimed the crowd at his inauguration was the largest ever, despite photographic evidence this was not true. I could go on and on with his false claims. Only a small percentage are true.

Obama had a scandal-free administration … but my friend didn’t care. He demonstrated great family values … but my friend didn’t care. When pressed to cite any specific lies he’d told, I got no response.

My friend and I are both grandparents, and our grandchildren will, I hope, have good role models. When I asked him about 45’s infidelities and sexist comments and his attitude toward women, my friend had no response. He didn’t agree. He simply failed to respond.

POTUS 45’s continual lying and demonstrated lack of knowledge, his self-centered approach to everything, his childish name-calling and attacks on the media along with everyone who does not agree with him: None of it seemed to concern my friend. If it did, he kept silent.

I’ve been learning fast that if you want to comment on politicians — or anyone, for that matter — fact-checking is a good idea. There are so many false stories circulating, particularly on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Someone gets a thought in their head, it comes out their mouth, and suddenly it’s perceived as fact. When you think about it, you all know this is true … and, to an certain extent, I think we all do it.

Cable and network news often have their own slants. Some are strictly factual and report what is; but others slant their approach to the news to support their editorial viewpoints. That, too, can be very misleading.

My wife reminds me to watch Fox News if I want the Trump view but MSNBC for the other view. In between, you have reliable sources on CNN, which I consider the most balanced news program on cable air. While public TV and radio are sometimes accused of being left-leaning — by commenters on the far right — in my view, they are fair and balanced.

It’s very important to learn more about what others think and why they think it. That’s why I am definitely a news junkie. Talk radio is another thing, however. My view is that there is one powerhouse regional station with a large audience that definitely leans Democratic. Another station with a much smaller audience falls into 45’s camp, loud and clear. Our third talk radio station, which is second in size of its listening audience, seems to cover both ends of the spectrum rather well, but with a definite tilt towards the party of Trump.

My friend claims (and I believe he’s a straight shooter) that he doesn’t watch the news. He says he no longer has TV and doesn’t listen to talk radio. That pretty much leaves two alternatives: talking directly to the source or, worse yet in my opinion, making a choice based on single-issue religious teachings.

If you wish to slam someone without specifying your factual basis — politician or not —you are simply urinating into the wind. Facts really do count. I can’t understand the sometimes-unspoken religious fanaticism that permeates the world today.

Trump says he wants to repeal Roe v. Wade (if you believe that, I have a little air left over for free in my backyard), while POTUS 44 was satisfied to leave the law as it stands.

Is it wrong for women to be in charge of their own bodies? Is it right for someone else (usually men) to tell a woman how to regulate her health care? Is it consistent to want the victim of incest, rape or a pregnancy that could kill the mother to carry a fetus to full term? Is it right that the fetus is the only thing the Right to Life groups think should survive?

We are bombing the hell out of Mideastern countries and killing unknown numbers of civilians. Where is the concern for them? The president has ordered our military into pointless, thoughtless actions in which they die for lack of planning. Where is the concern for their lives? Many of the same folks who worry so much about the fetus in every single pregnant woman’s body don’t comment or oppose the ravages that these conflicts inflict on humans who are already born. We wonder why other nations may not hold us in high esteem. Well, think about what we have done.

Our current president, a man who has the worst case of diarrhea of the mouth that the Lord ever allowed to live, is now thumping his “never been in the military — never held elective office” chest at North Korea. He wants to show the North how tough we are.

Perhaps if 45 had ever read a history book, he would know that when North Korea invaded South Korea almost 70 years ago, the Chinese then joined the North to draw the war to a stalemate. The armistice that ended the fighting still stands today in a divided Korea.

The U.S. dropped more bombs on North Korea during the Korean conflict than during all of World War II. We indiscriminately bombed civilian targets and used napalm. Entire cities and their populations were destroyed. I doubt the young hereditary president of the North needs reminding of what the U.S. is capable of — but this certainly does demonstrate why he wants whatever weapons he is trying to develop. His military also must be well aware that any offensive attack on this country or its allies would result in the immediate and total destruction of North Korea.

If ever this country needed real and wise leadership, it is now. If ever we must stop bashing each other and restore civility, it is now. It’s easy to taunt judges and others by calling them names … a lot easier than civilly discussing issues without judging.

I try to base my observations and what I see, read and digest. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do expect, however, that if you support someone, you can explain why, and if you oppose them, you can also explain your reasons. If your opinion is based on facts, then state them. Without grounding your opinions in facts, they’re just empty words … and that’s not worth losing friends over.

My old friend is still my friend, but I still don’t understand what he sees in 45 or why he hated 44. I know he’s not racist. Maybe it’s that religious fanaticism that people don’t like to talk about. He may be wrong but, as my dad used to say, he’s still my friend. Amen.

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