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November 19, 2017

11/14/2017 7:27:00 AM
Welcome Putin with open arms

To the Editor:

When the news first came out that the Russians had tampered with our elections by spreading lies on the internet I was outraged. A recent event, however, has caused me to pause in my outrage and rethink how I feel about Russian meddling.

"What recent event?" you may ask. It is a terrible thing, a horrible thing. It is something that is universally dreaded in this country and makes us all victims no matter out political stripes. I speak of course of political campaign ads that we are beginning to see and hear on television and radio. I am convinced, that from sea to shining sea, whenever anyone two years old and up sees or hears a political campaign ad it immediately conjures that old joke: Question: How do you know when a politician is lying? Answer: His or her lips are moving. For as we all know, political campaign ads are nothing more than half truths, misdirection, obfuscation, outright lies, and facts and figures that are harder to understand than Chinese arithmetic. I am reminded of Mark Twain who once observed that: "Figures never lie but liars always figure." To my mind if it is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it is a lie. That is what we get from political campaign ads. Lies. It doesn't matter if they are sponsored by Republicans or Democrats, approved by the candidate or sponsored by a political action committee. They are all lies.

I don't know for sure but I suspect that if you and I were to publically tell lies about each other it would be called slander or libel and we'd be in trouble. (You being the editor and all, I will bow to your expertise on this.) When politicians do it, it is called a political campaign ad. Except, of course, back in the early days of our country when there was no television or radio. The term then was, I believe, road apples.

The point is that politicians have been lying about themselves and their opponents for a long, long time. (Personally I believe this is actually the world's oldest profession.) It's nothing new. What is new, apparently, is now Vladimir Putin is lying about our politicians too. So what? What's the big deal? Many say because it subverts our democracy. What? Political campaign ads, gerrymandering, big money, corporations that have gained personhood and the right to political speech doesn't?

It appears to me that we have a long tradition in this country of tolerating the subversion of our own democracy. Perhaps instead of trying to keep Vlad out of it we should welcome him with open arms as a kindred spirit. (We might even be able to get away with charging him triple for internet ads if we say he is not a citizen.) All we really have to do is make sure that when he spreads his lies, oops, political campaign ads, on the web that he do it in person. That way we can see his lips moving too.

Michael Kuczek


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