THE COURAGE OF HONESTY

The American people deserve an honest media without agenda. However, if members of the media have an agenda, have the guts to be honest about it. The American people deserve the courage of honesty from those in the political arena as well.

Not a chance.

In late November, Republican strategist Ed Roberts pointed out that Barack Obama’s middle name was Hussein. Shortly thereafter, a hypocritical Chris Matthew’s of MSNBC’s Hardball, asked Roberts why he was pointing out Obama’s middle name. What Matthews did not say, according to Media Matters, was that he, Matthews, was the first to point out Obama’s middle name during a November 7 edition of Hardball. The poison of dishonesty does not stop there. Just recently CNN reporter Jeff Greenfield warned that Obama’s casual style of dress would tempt people to compare the senator to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, another causal dresser.

Roberts poo-pooed the seriousness of his utterance, Matthews dodged responsibility for his, and Greenfield said he was joking and even went so far as to imply he had no idea anyone could misunderstand his “joke”. “How could anyone possibly take such analysis seriously? Or consider it a ham-handed effort at character assassination?” Mr. Greenfield wrote on the CNN website. Well, anyone with an IQ in a least double-digits much less three, Mr. Greenfield.

According to Media Matters, Mr. Greenfield has yet to apologize “for his role in doctoring a video clip of Hillary Clinton to portray her as a liar.” Mr. Greenfield’s claim he had no idea his observation would have such an impact reveals three possibilities, he is the only person in history whose IQ and life experience can leave and return without warning, he is a liar because he doesn’t give a damn or he is a liar because he doesn’t have the courage to be honest.

Meanwhile, all of the people referenced above (save forObama and Media Matters) insult all American people. Tell us the truth. Most Americans I know understand when someone makes a mistake or shoots from the hip from time to time. Most Americans like and admire it when they see someone with the courage to apologize. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is a case in point. Recently he accused NBC reporter David Gregory of asking a partisan question. It took Mr. Snow a matter of days to acknowledge his misstep and apologize to Mr. Gregory. Mr. Snow received well deserved praise for his honesty and courage.

You would think Mr. Greenfield, Mr. Matthews and Mr. Roberts would enjoy similar praise. Then again, it requires the courage of honest integrity to earn that praise. It seems Mr. Greenfield, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Matthews have not been in the same room with courage for quite some time. Not only am I not joking, I am being entirely honest.

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SCARED FOR MY COUNTRY

Written December 13, 2006

I am scared for my country.

Most of me believes the backbone of our democracy is stronger than any misguided leader. Today I heard our president in a press conference say “I want to hear from ideas and opinions.” I, for one, can’t remember the last time an idea or an opinion talked to me but then again I’m not the president. I am just an everyday guy who is limited to ideas and opinions expressed by, well, people.

I listened to our president say he had a “fruitful discussion about how to secure our country” with members of the Joint Chiefs, the vice-president (God help us all) and others. The president said our military was “taking the fight” to the enemy.

As I listened to him I felt and thought several things: frustration at the man’s inability to admit a mistake or admit a wrong, as if to do so would be an act of weakness. If admitting a mistake or a wrong is an act of weakness, Mr. President, how come you can’t do it?

I listen to him and I am heartbroken. I am heartbroken for the American men and women who have been killed and wounded and soon will be killed killed and wounded. I am heartbroken for the Iraqi men, women and children who have been killed and wounded and will be killed and wounded. And I am heartbroken for all the families.

I am angry too. We were attacked by Al Qaeda and their leader was and still is Osama bin Laden. When we were attacked we by and large had worldwide support when it came to going after Bin Laden and the Taliban. American people of all political persuasions were joined in their desire to lash back at and bring to justice those who slaughtered 3,000 innocents. But here is the tragic reality of the day; those that killed 3,000 innocents are an afterthought and Iraq is, by any measure, a disaster. We have just had a real bi-partisan report offered to our country by the Iraq Study Group and already I see the president discarding it.

I am scared for my country. My country has a president who wants to hear from ideas and opinions. I wish he wanted to hear from the people. After all, the American people are the ones that deserve to be heard. After all, it is their children that are being killed and wounded.

PRAISE FOR IRAQ STUDY GROUP

Written December 10, 2006

Let Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch of our government rejoice (and do a bit of learning while they’re at it); the 10-member Iraq Study Group has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a bipartisan effort by a group of people with a wide range of political views is possible!

Whether you agree with ISG’s report or not, they are a lesson in democracy. Any American not proud of their effort ought to hang their heads in shame. The last time I saw something like this was the Watergate Committee so many years ago now. Like the ISG, you could not discern the political party of the Watergate Committee member when they worked. Why? Because they were putting the welfare of the country first, which is, in my view, is exactly what the ISG did.

Just ponder the composition of the ISG: James A. Baker III, Lee H. Hamilton, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O’Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson; a diverse group to be sure.

When the ISG presented their report to the country, I was moved to tears. Here was a group of Americans who refused to fire rounds at past mistakes. Here was a group of Americans who stayed loyal to a “look forward” attitude. Here was a group of Americans that refused to be pulled off course by some media questions that reeked of one political agenda or another. Here was a group of Americans that put their country first and unanimously agreed on 79 points. If only the Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch would do that, imagine how the country would benefit.

Naturally, after the ISG issued their report, there were predictable responses from political slugs like Rush Limbaugh and the New York Post. Then again, Limbaugh and the New York Post really do have value; they remind us this is a free country and all views have their place. Limbaugh and the New York Post offer views that prove there is no relationship between hate and solution. The ISG, agree with their report or not, remind all Americans that what makes this country great, democracy, is still alive and well.

IT’S VICTORY FOR THE NY CRIME VICTIMS BOARD TOO

Written December 10, 2006

In the preceding entry there is a newspaper article about my court victory against the NY State Crime Victims Board. In fact, in my view, it was a victory against a CVB policy, not the entire CVB.

The CVB had adopted a misguided policy that said no crime victim would be reimbursed for telephone counseling. This, of course, is an appalling policy. I have known many victims (survivors of rape, gunshot wounds, etc.) that for physical or emotional reasons cannot get out of their homes or have a terribly difficult time retaining the ability to leave their homes. My guess is this policy was advocated by one or two people and the CVB made an honest mistake by adopting it.

Having said all this, the recent court decision in my favor is in fact a victory for the NY State Crime Victims Compensation Board just as it is a victory for all crime victims in my state. It would be brutally unfair to define the CVB by a single policy. The best boards in the world have made mistakes, or adopted a policy they believed was effective and then later changed their course. The NY CVB has done right by me for years and some of their staff have helped me in ways so meaningful the scope of my gratitude is beyond my ability to describe.

It was the policy that was flawed, not the entire CVB.

WIN FOR ALL NY CRIME VICTIMS

Berne man wins phone therapy suit

Judge: Crime victims panel must pay man’s therapist for rare form of counseling

By RICK KARLIN, Capitol bureau
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Saturday, December 9, 2006

A Berne man who sued the state for cutting off payments for his telephone therapy has won the right to keep getting the treatments reimbursed.
The New York State Crime Victims Compensation Board was “arbitrary and capricious,” in its decision earlier this year to stop payments to William Buse, a New York City therapist who provides counseling over the telephone to Peter Kahrmann, who moved to Berne four years ago.

“We just got the decision in the mail,” Kahrmann lawyer Michael Kaplen said. “He’s going to continue to get the therapy he needs.”

The case filed earlier this year challenged the board’s decision to stop funding the rare therapy. State Supreme Court Justice George B. Ceresia Jr. based his decision partly on the lack of hearings or other public input prior to the board’s decision.

“This is a victory for crime victims and I think it’s a victory for the Crime Victims Board too,” Kahrmann said. He said he hopes to meet with board members now that the case is resolved. “The Crime Victims Board is an honorable group of people, but they probably got some bad guidance.”

The board’s general counsel, John Watson, said it would have to review Ceresia’s decision before determining if it would change procedures at the agency.

Watson said the board gets about a half-dozen lawsuits each year similar to Kahrmann’s and there are currently three outstanding. Kahrmann sued under Article 78 of state law which allows people to go to court and fight decisions by government agencies.

Watson couldn’t immediately say how many people receive telephone therapy that is paid for by the board. Previous board officials have said it wasn’t more than a handful at most.

In 1984, Kahrmann was shot in the head during a mugging in New York City, where he lived at the time. After surgery to save his life, he spent a year cooped up in his apartment until Buse, a clinical social worker, helped him deal with the trauma.

Kahrmann became active in advocating for people with brain injuries and when he moved to Berne, continued with the occasional therapy sessions with Buse by phone.

Rick Karlin can be reached at 454-5758 or by e-mail at rkarlin@timesunion.com.