NEWS AND OPINION:
Alas, the past 12 months have been a truth-optional time period, some say. 2014 was, in fact “the year of the lie.” That pronouncement comes from New York Post culture critic Kyle Smith, who reveals his rationale: “Bowe Bergdahl. The IRS’s missing e-mails. Lena Dunham. ‘Hands up, don’t shoot.’ Jonathan Gruber. GM and that faulty ignition switch. Andrew Cuomo and that anti-corruption commission,” the journalist says. “2014 was the year when truth was optional. 2014 was the year when convenient fabrication was the weapon of choice for celebrities, activists, big business and politicians.”
A sign of the times, aberrant politics or an unfortunate phenomenon that’s could fade into history? The jury is still out on this one.
“In the Obama years, lies are no longer lies. They’re essential tools to keep at bay the McCarthyites and their nasty slurs; they’re narratives that serve a larger, political function such as ruining fraternities or the life of a guy who dared to be a Republican on a liberal campus. They perpetuate the fairy tale that the IRS acted properly, that government isn’t corrupt, that ObamaCare is working just fine,” Mr. Smith observes.
DONALD TRUMP GOES TO WASHINGTON
Sound the clarion trumpets, please. Somebody arrives in the nation’s capital on Monday with unapologetic ideas and signature cachet intact. That would be Donald Trump, who is indeed in town to strike a formidable posture before the Economics Club of Washington, in a sparkling new hotel some 10 blocks from the White House. No, the event is not being staged on a Trump property; his seismic, $200 million overhaul of the old U.S. Post Pavilion building on Pennsylvania Avenue is underway, to be ready, notably, by 2016.
Mr. Trump is here for a serious discussion with David Rubenstein, president of the aforementioned organization and the co-founder of the Carlyle Group. Here is what the billionaire will discuss: “Trump brand’s entrance into the Washington, D.C. market, his political aspirations, and the economy,” the group says. Should we pay attention? Yes. C-SPAN is covering it live at 7 p.m., an indicator that the learned C-SPAN-ites expect some news, along with political theater. They could get some. Mr. Trump continues to weigh in on most everything, and fearlessly so. A sampling of his most recent tweets:
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“These Islamists chop Americans’ heads off and want to destroy us. We should be applauding the CIA, not persecuting them”
“Policy towards our enemies: Hit them hard, hit them fast, hit them often & then tell them it was because they are the enemy!”
“People with bachelor’s degrees can’t find jobs in US. And Obama wants to bring in more immigrants.”
POLICE STILL HAVE ‘POSITIVE IMPACT’ IN COMMUNITY
In the aftermath of Ferguson, the evolving and complicated discussion about race in American continues; it deserves as much candor as society can muster. And there is always a new poll to consider.
“In the midst of this unrest, it is important to recognize that a vast majority of Americans report positive sentiments toward police in general, with 85 percent believing that most police officers have a positive impact on the communities where they work,” points out Larry Shannon-Missal, managing editor of the Harris Poll, which found that 72 percent of blacks and 88 percent of white agree. The findings also revealed that 53 percent overall agree that blacks are discriminated against in the way they are treated by police, however — and nearly half say the discrimination prevents them from receiving “full equality” and “in the way they are treated as human beings.” Among black Americans, the numbers rise over 80 percent on all three questions.
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“Americans do recognize that vulnerabilities may exist in our justice system when it comes to criminal proceedings involving police officers. Seven in ten Americans” — 68 percent of whites, 83 percent among blacks — “believe that state and local prosecutors involved in cases against police officers face a conflict of interest,” Mr. Shannon-Missal says, adding that 61 percent feel that prosecution of police officers should be handled at the federal level; 57 percent of whites and 82 percent of black agree. The survey of 2,200 was conducted Dec. 8-10.
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE
“With the popularity of outdoor farms — both legal and illegal ones — on the rise, it begs the question: will deer get high while eating raw marijuana? Will hunters see sleepy deer relaxing in the woods, perhaps with a case of the munchies?” This question comes from Outdoor Hub reporter Daniel Xu, who bases his inquiry on several news sources, including a report from Oregon Public Radio recounting the story of Sugar Bob, a black-tailed deer who frequents a medicinal marijuana farm in the south of the state, has a nibble, then stays to hang around Trooper, the farm’s beagle.
A FRESH START?
Amid the Christmas rush, many Americans heard somewhere in the last 48 hours that there was a really big spending bill that dragged through Congress with drama, late nights and acrimony between conservative stalwarts and establishment Republicans. But the bill is done, the sausage is made, and there you go. Now what?
“While many may be skeptical, and rightfully so given how broken Washington has become, Republicans are committed to returning government to the American people. We know who our bosses are, and that you are more than capable of understanding what Washington does or does not accomplish,” advised Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, in the weekly Republican address. “We understand that it is not government that powers our nation, but rather the ingenuity, hard work and skills of the American people. Your issues are our concerns.”
A WORK IN PROGRESS
“On Monday, I’ll be visiting our troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey — to salute them for their service and thank them for their sacrifices. Since our nation was attacked on 9/11, these men and women, like so many others in uniform, have met every mission we’ve asked of them. They deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. In more than a decade of war, this 9/11 generation has worked with the Afghan people to help them reclaim their communities and prevent terrorist attacks against our own country,” President Obama said in his weekly address.
“Now, many of our troops are returning from Afghanistan, and on Monday, I’ll be proud to help welcome them home. That’s because, this month, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over. Our war in Afghanistan is coming to a responsible end. Of course, the end of our combat mission in Afghanistan doesn’t mean the end of challenges to our security. We’ll continue to work with Afghans to make sure their country is stable and secure and is never again used to launch attacks against America,” Mr. Obama noted.
POLL DU JOUR
• 64 percent of Americans say it is still possible to start poor, work hard and become rich in the U.S.; 33 percent disagree.
• 54 percent say overregulation in the U.S. is the biggest interference to economic growth; 38 percent say there is too little regulation.
• 43 percent rate the U.S. economy as “the same”; 26 percent say it is getting worse, 30 percent say it is getting better.
• 52 percent say the U.S. economic system is fair, and gives people equal opportunity to succeed; 45 percent disagree.
• 41 percent say Republicans to a better job on the economy; 37 percent cite Democrats.
Source: A New York Times poll of 1,006 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 4-7.
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