Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Silence is not always golden.

When we were all children there were times when our parents reminded us that "silence is golden" that we should be "seen and not heard" lest we went home and faced the prospect of their hand on our bottoms.  Of course, spanking one's child now is viewed as something worse than starving them so that threat is out the window but the old mythology lives on. 

Of course, you weren't supposed to stay silent should you say, notice that the roast in the oven is burning or that you accidentally might have let the dogs into the tulips your parents just spent all day planting, but as an overall rule, during social situations when the adults were speaking, we were supposed to stay silent as a mouse and only speak when spoken to.

Amusingly, there are times when the rank & file of our two main political parties wish their elected officials, or prospective elected officials would just shut up and flash back to those times of their youth.  To my way of thinking, this is a horrible idea.  For all of those Republicans aghast that Todd Akin was a vocal idiot who most likely played a (small) role in costing them control of the Senate there were those of us who were happy he piped up, if only to keep someone with his beliefs from having a vote that could, in many ways, have an effect on us.  Yes, Republicans failed to gain the Senate, but we were also able to prevent a six year National embarassment from occuring, limiting the damage to Colorado where everyone is now either stoned or suffering from oxygen deprivation so it doesn't matter anyway.

Gaffes on the Democratic side of the aisle have been just as illuminating. Democratic Rep Joe Salazar thinks women are too batty to own a gun, Democratic Rep Hank Johnson think the US Navy can tip over Guam unfortunately, he also thinks it would be a swell idea to amend the Constitution to restrict free speech. That just goes to show you that some gaffes are funny, some are scary.

Which brings us (finally) to the point of this post and things said by Texans over the past week.

The first is from Democratic Rep Senfronia Thompson, who has a history of mildly humorous grandstanding weighed in this week with the laugher of a suggestion that expanding liquor sales to Sunday is a 'family friendly' item. You know, Scotch Sunday's "for the children."  Of course, I'm not opposed to the repeal of this blue law but it would be anti-family for my family.  As it currently stands the wife has a guaranteed day of the week off from work.  If this passed she would lose that.

The second quote is a little less funny.  It's from Democratic Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings who made the following comments in regards to Texas water regulations:

Texas Lawmakers take-up $2B Water Bill, Chris Tomlinson AP via Fort Worth Star-Telegram)*

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called on lawmakers to change the permitting process to make it easier and cheaper to build new water facilities. He cited the experience of Dallas, which tried to build a new reservoir on the Neches River called Lake Fastrill. The city spent millions of dollars on developing the project, filing permits and ultimately on litigation, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court rule against the city, killing the project. "The lengthy permitting process creates a situation where local governments must make a wager on getting water," Rawlings said. "If we don't deal with these water needs, in 2060 it will cost us about half a million jobs in the area and $64 billion in projected income."
What Mayor Rawlings omits is the fact that the land in question where Lake Fastrill was scheduled to be located had already been scheduled as a wildlife refuge by the US Department of Fish & Wildlife  as this wound through the courts it really looked like Dallas trying to impose it's will on other communities without really asking them for much input.  That people were going to lose their residences and property to this project, and that it is difficult for an entity to do that, is the crux of his argument. He also fails to admit that, while he's wanting to make it easier to deprive people of house and home, he's working to make it harder to start a small business in his city due to an influx of 'new urban' regulation.

That's why I remind you today that what we really want is to hear, loud and clear, what our elected representatives are saying and also what they really mean.  Too often however the media decides their job is not to focus on the issues but to bring us the silly while the serious is under reported.  The easy out is to make fun of 'low information voters' and to characterize the other side as a bunch of mouth-breathing simpletons who have to be given phones to ensure their vote.  It's easy but it's misguided.  The real response is to blame those who know better and are supposed to have the public interest at heart.

This assumes that today's modern media are still practicing journalism, and aren't sales persons trying to increase viewership to drive up ad rates.  The first question is: Why are we allowing these private companies such unfettered access into our lives if they're not going to do the jobs they're supposed to do?**  The second is: If they're not going to report the news, why in the hell are we paying attention to them anyway?

*I should note that I found this piece originally on, the Chron's paysite.  However, since it was an AP report (which I thought they weren't hiding behind the wall) I went out and found the same story on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Since it was not behind a paywall I feel the small quote here is well within fair use.

**I'm not saying that media should be restricted.  We all know that's a First Amendment right.  Just to clarify. I just mean that, as private citizens, we need to understand what they are and respond in kind.

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