“Why Students Lie” Article Misses the Political Point

This past week, the New York Times published an interesting but ill-conceived article written by a high school teacher entitled “Why Students Lie, and Why We Fall for It”.

The article discussed the author’s preoccupation with the fact that her students lie to her, not on occasion, but apparently more often than not. The author, Jessica Lahey, discussed in part the book “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time” written on this very topic, and her email discussions with the book’s author, Maria Konnikova. Lahey related her having asked Konnikova why her students “lie, cheat, and steal” and why she is so bad at spotting it. Konnikova’s response was that all kids are con artists, and that “they

lie willingly in order to get something they want”. She went on to say that just as it is human nature to lie, it is also human nature for others to believe those lies. Konnikova also told Lehey that the more you care about someone the more easily you are to be deceived by them. Finally, Konnikova said that while lying is a normal endeavor, it should not be ignored, as “getting away with it” only serves to reinforce
the behavior: “Many con artists start small and keep going once they realize that no one has caught on.”

Konnikova provided this advice for Lehey: Spot and call out the cons, and rather than let them get away with it, verify the accuracy and veracity of what they say.

Let’s reflect a moment on what Konnikova said about kids, and how utterly true her statements are when applied to the lineup of gop presidential candidates, and how easy it is for them to get gop party membership, hoping and praying for a viable candidate, to eat it all up, believing every lie, every con.

So why bring this up, and why now, late Saturday night, early Sunday morning? Well, two reasons. First, there was another gop debate this evening, full of lies, lies, and more lies, and because social media has been exploding all day following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, not so much about the fact of his death, that was early, but it’s the aftermath that’s key here. And that aftermath, revolving around the unanimous gop position that the President and the Senate should abdicate their sworn duties and not nominate and certainly not confirm a successor, but rather let the Court suffer through almost a full year of primarily wasted activity with a likely 4-4 non-outcome on most cases, while waiting for the election and swearing in of the next president, has revolved around a lie of epic proportions.

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First, the easy part. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Kasich and Carson spoke their usual words tonight, and as usual, the scavenger hunt for single words of truth was largely unsuccessful. Statements such as the Constitution does not provide a method for choosing a successor to a dead Supreme Court Justice (Carson), w kept us safe (Jed), Trump did or did not
take an elderly lady’s home for casino parking (Cruz or Trump – one of the two is lying), a flat tax will reduce taxes for American workers (Cruz), the “postcard” tax return can result in the abolishment of the IRS (Cruz), and of course, reagan was not the worst president in US history (Everyone), among all the rest were, in a word, lies.

But Saturday’s mantra, the lie of all lies, was that Presidents do not make appointments and Congress does not act on Supreme Court appointment in presidential election years.

The leader of the pack in this pervasive lie has been none other than Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You all remember Sen. Grassley from the finest moments of his political career back during the debates over the Affordable Care Act when he was the one who began the ludicrous assertion that the ACA would provide for “Death Panels” sending grandma to an early grave. For the record, the provision in question was a tiny insertion that provided that insurance companies should be required to pay for end-of-life type discussions between doctors and their patients and patients’ families, that until then (and still today thanks to Grassley) generally required the sometimes grieving families to pay out-of-pocket due to carriers refusing to pay for these conversations, despite they’re being necessities of patient care.

Now, Grassley was the first to state the lie of the week that “it’s been the standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year.” All well and good, except for the fact that not only is that a blatant lie, but the Grassley had first-hand knowledge that it was a lie. In fact, In late 1987, Justice Lewis Powell retired, and on Nov. 30, less than a year from the upcoming presidential election, reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to replace him. But, the Senate did not act on his nomination until the following February, February of 1998, a presidential election year. Kennedy won confirmation by a vote of 97-0, and among those 97 voting for his confirmation, in a presidential election year and less than 80 years ago, was one Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was also among the first to voice his opinion as to the process for replacing Scalia, and he was quoted soon after the report of Scalia’s death as saying the following:

“The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice …. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Guess who else voted for Kennedy back in the presidential election year of 1988? Yes, that’s right, Mitch McConnell.

Oh, and Senator, the people DO have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice – they raised their voice loud and clear when they elected President Barack Obama. Twice.

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I should also probably mention that in 1988 Democrats controlled the Senate and they could have stalled the Kennedy vote if they were as petty, partisan, vindictive, anti-American, and, oh yea, racist, as today’s republican senators.

For the record, at least 17 Justices, Oliver Ellsworth, Samuel Chase, William Johnson, Philip Barbour, Roger Taney, Salmon Chase, Ward Hunt, William
Woods, Melville Fuller, Lucius Lamar, George Shiras, Mahlon Pitney, John Clark, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Frank Murphy, and Kennedy, were all confirmed during presidential election years. Murphy was also confirmed less than 80 years ago, in 1940, for whatever that artificial cutoff period may or may not mean.

So, as has been said about kids in school dealing with their teachers in less than honest ways, men at the top echelon of our political system – governors, senators, and others, many vying for the office of President of the United States – should also be called out and confronted with their lies, and required to verify their outlandish statements.

But, sadly, that seldom if ever happens, and the gop circus rolls merrily along, safe in their bubble of lies and deceit.

About theHoundDawg

For many years as a lawyer, I saw much of the good and bad of society, and did what I could to right many wrongs. The lack of understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, as evidenced by such events as the election of King W as president, (who as such far surpassed the evil of richard nixon but not quite that of ronald reagan) lead me in a new direction, to spend my time trying to understand what is happening to our society, to try as best I can to spread my insights to others, and along the way to maybe even eke out a living through the internet.
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