What Dad used to say

And now, for a screed …

When I screwed up as a kid, which was every once in a while, my Dad would stop everything, give me a stare that my buddy Steve and I used to call the “OTG look” (Over the Glasses) and tell me, “You know better than that.”

I thought of that last week when the news  — ohhh, the news — smacked me on the back of the head once again.

God, it’s hard to keep up with what’s happening in the world, isn’t it? The only thing harder is trying to avoid it. And that’s downright impossible.

My wife and I are not particularly political people. She leans more conservative. I fall more on the liberal side. We’ve made it work, quietly, most of our married lives.

Now, politics suddenly is a major source of conversation in our empty nest. We can’t stop ourselves. And we’re on the same side in this one. (Is it because of the empty nest? Or because we’re getting older? Is every house like this? Is this normal?)

What’s Trump saying? What’s he doing? Who’s he attacking now? Who’s he hacking off now?

The guy talks so big. (If Trump can do anything, it’s talk big.) You’re forced to listen, even when you don’t want to.

And, honestly, I don’t want to. A lot.

What’s it all mean? Is it just bluster or real threat? Promise or nonsense?

The thing is … we know better. That’s what we have to remember. We know better. No matter what sleight of hand, what slanted coverage, what flat-out lies are spewed, no matter how confusing it seems at times, we have to cancel all the noise and rely on what we know.

And we know. We all know better than this.

It’s not smart or fair or right, for example, to deny the promise of America to an entire country for the crimes of a very few. We know better than that.

It’s not right to suggest that getting into America is as easy as walking through any airport or across any border … because it’s not. It’s not right to say that immigrants are the cause of America’s problems … because they’re not. Immigrants, remember, make America. They enrich our lives daily. America was built by immigrants.

It’s not fair to point to crimes by immigrants as proof that we need a wall when all statistics show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than people born in the U.S.  It’s not right to dismiss those statistics simply because they don’t fit a narrative. It’s disingenuous — being kind there — to make immigration a central theme of what’s wrong with America. It’s not.

It’s not right suggest a wall will keep out bad guys in the first place. It won’t.

(I still am blown away by the optics: the Statue of Liberty on one side and a wall on the other …)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

It’s not right to state something as fact when it’s not. That’s called lying. It’s not right to dismiss those who point out a lie with a simple, “Well, that’s what I was told,” or “I was referring to something I saw on the news.”

It’s not right to attack those who object to the twisting of facts, the wild inaccuracies — the out-and-out lies — by calling them Crooked This or Lyin’ That or Losers! or Sad! or the Enemy of the American People. The Judiciary, the Congress, the intelligence community, the press, the opposition party, the party in power … they all can’t be wrong.


It’s not right to claim to be moral or a man of the people or a public servant when a whole life has been spent being none of those.

Come on, everybody. Come on! We know better than that.

It’s not right to dismiss the warnings of 97 percent of the world’s scientists because their findings are bad for business. It’s not right to OK the building of more pipelines and justify it by saying they will create jobs, when they will create relatively few. What projects like the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline really do — we know this! — is make a lot of rich people richer, further our reliance on fossil fuels (with all the problems that includes) and disrespect the wishes of many of the only people in America who aren’t immigrants.

It’s not right to say that “torture works” when those who know about it — those who have been there, not just who have seen somebody talk about it on cable TV — say it doesn’t.

It’s not right to say photos were doctored or rampant voter fraud is real or crime is out of control or that we’re the moral equivalent of Russia when none of that — none of that — is true.

We know better than that.

Yes, it gets confusing at times. People often see the same things differently. The line between right and wrong is not always easy to see. That’s a fact.

But when someone constantly, irrefutably, outrageously lies, purposely tries to confuse, viciously assigns blame and accepts none, when that someone pits the well-meaning against each other and impugns good people — hard-working people who have served, who don’t live in skyscrapers with their names on them and who are, indeed, moral and righteous — I go back to what Dad used to say.

I know better than that. We all should know better than that.

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