Public weary of probes

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - Mike Master­son Mike Master­son is a long­time Arkansas jour­nal­ist. Email him at mmas­ter­son@arkansason­line.com.

Count me among those who, af­ter wit­ness­ing the elec­tion melt­down in which most na­tional poll­sters wrongly pre­dicted Hil­lary Clin­ton would be­come the 45th pres­i­dent, lost faith from the ex­posed po­lit­i­cal bias of most na­tional polling. Noth­ing else for me ex­plains such gross er­rors.

There’s an often in­sur­mount­able penalty in public opin­ion when a per­son or or­ga­ni­za­tion proves their words can­not be trusted. This is true both in life and hu­man na­ture, es­pe­cially when oth­ers can rec­og­nize ap­par­ent bi­ases be­hind oth­ers’ words and ac­tions.

Still, I found it interesting (while tak­ing it with some­thing smaller than a grain of salt) to see the re­sults of a Har­vard-Har­ris poll the other day which said 64 per­cent of the coun­try be­lieves the po­lit­i­cally in­spired in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are dam­ag­ing to our na­tion as a whole.

That’s in­tu­itable. I can say with great cer­tainty I am be­yond dead-dogtired of what seems clear to me to be a cal­cu­lated and in­ten­tional wall of op­po­si­tion from cer­tain mem­bers of Congress to bi­ased courts and be­yond against the pres­i­dent and his plans for the na­tion.

The poll con­sist­ing of 2,237 reg­is­tered voters was com­posed of 35 per­cent Demo­crat re­spon­dents, 29 per­cent Repub­li­can and the rest ei­ther in­de­pen­dent or “other.”

Adding to the wide­spread weari­ness fac­tor was the find­ing that 54 per­cent of those polled be­lieve it’s time for Congress to move on to is­sues other than al­leged Rus­sian col­lu­sion dur­ing the elec­tion, in which not a shred of hard ev­i­dence has been re­leased af­ter eight months of rep­e­ti­tion and na­tional me­dia bal­ly­hoo.

The re­spon­dents pre­fer that Congress tend to sub­jects I also see as truly rel­e­vant to our day-to-day lives in­clud­ing jobs, na­tional se­cu­rity, health care, ter­ror­ism and eco­nomic im­prove­ment. The poll re­ported that 73 per­cent said the politi­cized and na­tional me­dia pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian con­nec­tions has caused Congress to lose fo­cus on th­ese very things that mat­ter most. That re­sult broke down to 81 per­cent of Repub­li­cans, 74 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents and even 68 per­cent Democrats.

From wide-rang­ing dis­cus­sions I’ve had, th­ese poll re­sults aren’t sur­pris­ing. Amer­i­cans by and large are more than ready to get on with im­prov­ing our na­tion and our lives as a whole rather than end­lessly watch­ing ego-driven po­lit­i­cal par­ties throw­ing junior high food fights to see which can have the most power.

Truth is we are liv­ing the ugly sce­nario Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton warned us about in his farewell ad­dress: Plac­ing allegiance to po­lit­i­cal par­ties over the wel­fare and best in­ter­ests of our cit­i­zens and na­tion.

More Mon­u­ment

A post­script on the re­cently de­mol­ished Ten Com­mand­ments mon­u­ment on our state Capi­tol grounds. Sen. Ja­son Rapert, who spon­sored the bill that al­lowed the mon­u­ment to be built with $26,000 in pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions, says it will be re­built in the spot since it has ev­ery pos­i­tive rea­son and le­gal right to be there.

Rapert wrote in re­sponse to my col­umn last week about the man who drove his ve­hi­cle into the granite mon­u­ment a day af­ter it was un­veiled. He feels there’s a lot of con­fu­sion about plac­ing mon­u­ments on public prop­erty, even, as in this in­stance, they aren’t paid for with tax dol­lars.

Here’s what Rapert told me. “There hap­pens to be a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion sur­round­ing the Arkansas Ten Com­mand­ments mon­u­ment— like any ma­jor story I guess.” He ex­plained that Act 1231 specif­i­cally states zero tax dol­lars would be spent and the mon­u­ment would be paid for by pri­vate do­na­tions. This par­tic­u­lar mon­u­ment was cre­ated and in­stalled through do­na­tions to the Amer­i­can His­tory and Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

“Also,” he con­tin­ued, “there is no court case clear­ing the way for any group to force a gov­ern­ment en­tity to erect its mon­u­ment or per­ma­nent dis­play.” The court case Pleas­ant Grove City v. Sum­mum speaks specif­i­cally to that no­tion. “It [that suit] hap­pened to in­volve a Ten Com­mand­ments mon­u­ment as well. There is no ba­sis to even sug­gest the Sa­tanic Tem­ple or any other group can de­mand their of­fen­sive mon­u­ment be erected on our Capi­tol grounds. They like to claim they can—but they can­not.”

Then, the District 35 Repub­li­can made what struck me as an es­pe­cially valid point in the pre­dictable con­flict that sur­rounds th­ese faith-cen­tered mon­u­ments. “If the Ten Com­mand­ments are wor­thy of be­ing dis­played in mul­ti­ple places in­side and out­side the United States Supreme Court build­ing it­self—they are good enough for the Arkansas Capi­tol, as well. I be­lieve Van Or­den v. Perry clears the way for our mon­u­ment to stand and I pray it will.”

Keep­ing record straight

My orig­i­nal col­umn item last week about Mo­town The Mu­si­cal at the Wal­ton Arts Cen­ter in Fayet­teville re­peated what was said more than once dur­ing the per­for­mance about how pro­ducer/mu­si­cian Berry Gordy founded Mo­town with a check from his mother and fam­ily for $1,000.

How­ever, the $1,000 fig­ure I orig­i­nally wrote was changed in my col­umn to $800 based on re­search by Voices edi­tor Brenda Looper dur­ing her edit­ing process. So val­ued read­ers who last week en­joyed the same per­for­mance that I did, now know the his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate fig­ure Gordy used to launch his phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful mu­sic com­pany was in fact, $800.

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