Thursday, September 27, 2012

Will There Be Clarinets In Heaven?

Bob Kuehn (keen) didn’t just dance to the beat of a different drummer; he heard all kinds of different drummers in his head, I’m sure, and followed the beat of several of them.  That’s perhaps why Bob was more than just a bit offbeat.

How offbeat?  Think of the Cosmo Kramer character played by Michael Richards in the “Seinfeld” show, only a LOT more weird.

Not that Bob’s sax or clarinet playing was offbeat or weird.  That he did pretty well, as I recall. 

Bob passed away last week Wednesday. He was 81.  That's a picture of Bob, above, holding his favorite beverage.

Of all the colorful characters I’ve had the privilege of knowing or working with in my years of playing polka music – and that’s some pretty colorful folks, like Harold Loeffelmacher and Johnny Gag – none were as colorful as Bob Kuehn.  UFO Bob, as he was known on KFIZ Radio in Fond du Lac, on his frequent guest appearances on Joe Scheibinger’s “Backstage Live” talk show.  (Of course, KFIZ is just a bit offbeat, itself; it’s one of only two radio stations east of the Mississippi to have a call sign starting with K, not W; and it’s had more than its share of colorful on-air personalities, including the inimitable Joe Goezer (gayzer), who would get fairly tanked up on the 4th of July and then broadcast “play-by-play” of the Fond du Lac fireworks show from Lakeside Park:  “ahh…ohh…geez, you shoulda seen THAT one”.)

More on the UFO’s later.

Bob had quite a few nicknames; in his later years, particularly in his persona as a guest on the radio, he preferred to be introduced as “UFO Bob, from the planet Platypus, where fermentation rules.”  The first nickname I ever heard for Bob was “Rastus Kaboon, the Man from the Moon” – an appellation so given because of Bob’s far-out beliefs and stories.  Ted Dorschner, the banjo man with the Rainbow Valley Dutchmen, called Bob “Sooty” – but I can’t recall why.

There are many stories connected with Bob; I’ll relate the one I remember best, because it made such a strong impression on me.  I was all of 16 years old back in the summer of 1965, and I had the best summer job in the world: tuba player for Ray Dorschner’s Rainbow Valley Dutchmen.  The regular tuba player was my high school band director, Ernie Broeniman, who spent countless hours teaching me how to play the big horn, and how to “hear” the chord changes in old-time music, and how to ad-lib (improvise, without music) a bass line with fills and runs.  Ray Dorschner was kind enough to let me take Ernie’s spot on the band while Ernie spent his summer working on his Master’s Degree at Colorado State.

The band travelled in Ray’s 9-passenger Chevy wagon, and coming home from some gig about 2:30AM on a weekend night, I was in the seat next to Bob, who was also filling in with the band that night.  Bob might have had a beer or two during the course of the four-hour gig (not that you could tell from his performance) and may have had a quick nightcap or two before the band trailer was packed up for the ride home.  Bob was making pleasant conversation about old-time music and musicians, when suddenly he said to me something like “you know, they won’t teach you this in school, but our government is actually run by small aliens who hide during the daylight hours.”

Bob went on to explain to me that the U.S. government was actually being run by tiny space-men, who really made all the important decisions.  Sure, LBJ was President, but the aliens called the shots.  John Kennedy was assassinated because he was going to tell everyone that the aliens really ran things.  Bob told me the aliens live in a hole near Red Wing, Minnesota; at night, they transport themselves to Washington, D.C., and run the government, the military – everything.  Bob said if you ever go to Washington at night, and look at the Capitol and all the government buildings, all the lights are on – all night – which proves that the aliens are in there, working until dawn, when they transport themselves back to Red Wing and sleep in the hole.

I didn’t mention this story to my parents the next day, when they asked me how the dance job went.  They were leery enough about letting their 16-year-old son spend his weekends with….musicians.  They had nothing to worry about.  Ray Dorschner took me under his wing and made sure I didn’t stray from the path of righteousness and sobriety.

Bob played with many of the fine old-time bands that booked out of central Wisconsin.  In addition to working with the Rainbow Valley Dutchmen, Bob performed with the Don Peachey band, Fred Palmer’s band, Andy Justman’s band, and the Ron Harvey Orchestra.  I’m sure there are others that I’ve forgotten.

My friend Jim Vollmer, who was a regular clarinet and sax man with the Dorschner band back in the 60’s, reminded me the other day of another of the famous Bob Kuene stories.  One time, when Bob was playing with the Don Peachey band, which booked out of Burnett, Wisconsin, they had a weekend gig in Minneapolis.  Bob was apparently convinced there was a hex on his horn, because it just wouldn’t do what he wanted it to.  After the gig, the band returned to the downtown Minneapolis hotel they were staying at, and Bob hung upside down with his sax from an upper story window of the hotel, trying to remove the hex from his horn.  Jim’s e-mail to me concluded the story with the sentence “Yes, he had been drinking a little bit.”

(Editor's note: after reading this story, Ernie Broeniman e-mailed me and said he was on that gig and confirmed the story, and added that after coming in from hanging upside down in the hotel window, Bob came in and lit a fire under his Sax to break the Hex!!!

Ernie also told the story about how a few years ago, he happened to be driving down the street in Fond du Lac and saw Bob walking, in the rain.  He hadn't seen Bob in years.  Ernie pulled over and told Bob to jump in, and he'd take him where he was going, and Ernie says Bob started conversing with him as if they'd seen each other yesterday.)

Now, about that UFO story.

Because of Bob’s firm belief in aliens, flying saucers, and so on, he made a very colorful guest on radio talk shows.  In addition to Joe Scheibinger’s show on KFIZ, Bob was also a frequent guest on Ron Harvey’s show on WFON-FM, also in Fond du Lac.  (Yes, Ron Harvey had a great band, but his “day-job” was broadcasting.) Several years ago, Joe decided to play a prank on Bob, who was always talking on the radio about the UFO’s he saw in the night sky over his cabin near Dundee Mountain in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, about 20 miles east of Fond du Lac.  Scheibinger and his pals arranged to secure the services of a pilot and a small airplane, and one night, they flew circles around Bob’s cabin, with a very bright blue spotlight hung out of the window of the plane.

Of course, the next morning Bob called in to Joe’s “Backstage Live” talk show, and went on for several minutes about the UFO that was right over his home last night, and Joe finally confessed that it was all just a prank.

Bob took it all in good humor, as he did most things in life.

Rest in peace, Bob Kuehn – one of the most colorful characters I’ve ever known.

(Another editor's note: Sincere thanks to all the old-time musicians who have e-mailed or messaged me today telling me they have enjoyed reading this post, and have fond memories of Bob and his unique outlook on life.  If you have a story to contribute about Bob, please send a message via my Facebook account or e-mail me at and I'll be happy to add your story to this brief account of Bob's colorful life.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alternative Reality: Check!

In the toxic stew of negativity that political advertising has become, it’s easy to pay attention only to the ads that make your candidate look good (or, far more likely, that make the candidate you don’t like look evil) than it is to actually listen to what is being said and attempt to analyze it.  Many folks are content to mute the sound, change the channel, or simply ignore political ads they don’t like.

To most of us, the ads are a nuisance.  For the TV stations in the so-called battleground states of Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, the political advertising is a gold mine, a cash windfall that’s kept them going through tough economic times.

A nonpartisan watchdog group called “Free Press” recently analyzed political advertising and local news coverage in Milwaukee, Tampa, Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Charlotte – markets where political ad spending has been the heaviest.

The not-surprising conclusion is that none of the TV stations in those markets, which raked in millions upon millions in political advertising, provided any local news stories investigating or even naming the special interests behind the ads, and did no investigation as to whether the ads were truthful in any way.

In the two weeks prior to the June 5th recall election in Wisconsin, no Milwaukee TV station spent ANY time doing analysis of the political ads they took money to run.  Yet the folks at Free Press say the Milwaukee stations found time to air 53 local news segments on Justin Bieber.

It’s a shame they didn’t check the Madison TV market.  You don’t need me to tell you how many political ads have run on the airwaves here since the recall elections last summer, the gubernatorial recall this past June, and now the Tammy/Tommy race and all the Obama/Romney ads that clutter the Madison TV airwaves.

If they did, they would have found one station – and only one – doing any sort of fact-checking on the barrage of political ads.  Despite the millions of political ad dollars that have flowed into the coffers of the local CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox TV stations (for those who aren’t aware, WISC-TV 3 has a contract to do the local news for WMSN Fox 47 – and please don’t confuse Fox TV with Fox News) only one news organization – WISC-TV’s news team – does any fact-checking.

The photo at the top of this post, which I stole from the WISC-TV website and am using here without permission, is a picture of WISC-TV’s Jessica Arp doing one of her many “Reality Check” segments.  She’s been doing frequent Reality Checks as part of the Channel 3 local news segments for years, and she’s damn good at it.  She’s meticulously fair and analyzes ads from both candidates in a race, or both sides of an issue.

The other local TV news operations don’t do this.  They should.  And all three of them should do reality checks not only on the political ads, but also on the special interests spending untold millions to create and buy the air-time for these ads.

Full disclosure: Jessica has been a friend for years, and my wife was a colleague during her days at Channel 3.  Right now, Jess is on a well-deserved vacation with her husband, crawling around ancient pyramids in Chichen Itza, Mexico, and soaking up some sun.  So she may not see this post.  I hope her friends will tell her about it when she gets back home, because she deserves credit for doing what no other reporter in Madison TV is doing.

Kudos also to the ownership and management of Channel 3, for underwriting the cost of doing these reality checks and supporting the effort to inform the electorate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Cult of Balance (Again)

Now that the Grey Lady (The New York Times) has taken up the discussion and developed new guidelines for its reporters regarding balance and false equivalence, it’s likely to become a very hot topic in mainstream journalism.

The analogy I like best, to explain false equivalence, is the one where someone (like, for instance, Michelle Bachman, although she did NOT say this) says “the earth is flat”, and the person running against her says “the earth is round”, and the news story is headlined “Opinions Vary on the Shape of the Earth” – as if both the flat earth statement and the round earth statement were of equal truth and value.

I’ve ranted several times in the past about the cult of journalists who believe every story must be balanced, particularly when politics is the topic, and they accept the nonsense being spewed by one person/candidate is being as valid as whatever’s being said by the opposition.

Complicating the issue in this Presidential election cycle is the fairly recent phenomenon that as Americans, we now have our own sets of “facts”.  We don’t agree and what is and what isn’t a fact, and we have the ability to expose ourselves to only one set of “facts”: Fox News and its ilk have one take on what’s fact and what isn’t; MSNBC and its ilk have a different, and often opposite take on what’s fact. We can select the information we consume to fit our bias.  Case on point: the birther issue.

It seems as a result of this recent “my facts aren’t your facts” phenomenon, fewer Americans, particularly those with deficient education, are not able to make an independent determination of what’s fact and what’s not.

Suppose you’re a reporter doing an interview with Tommy Thompson (or Paul Ryan), and he trots out the line about repealing Obamacare, which he characterizes as a government takeover of health care.  Do you let it slide? Politfact and many other reputable watchdog groups have clearly exposed the “takeover” line as bunk – Politfact called it “the biggest political lie of 2010”.  The Affordable Care Act is nothing near a “government takeover” – the government will not take over hospitals and clinics, the government will not put doctors and caregivers on the federal payroll, and on and on.  Do you stop Thompson (Ryan) and challenge him on the line right then and there?  Do you point out when reporting the story that the ACA is not a government takeover of health care?  Or, do you do what 99.445% of reporters do, and simply let the tape roll, because, after all, as your journalism professors taught you, it’s not YOU that’s making the false assertion, it’s the candidate?

When Paul Ryan spun his lie about the Janesville GM plant in his speech at the Republican Convention, he was caught immediately.  But today’s political tactic is to continue to tell the lie, again and again, regardless of how many times reporters call you on it.  Piers Morgan’s interview with Scott Walker the night after Ryan’s convention speech is quite instructive: Morgan essentially said to Walker “why the lie?” – and Walker simply repeated it – twice.  Is “Obama promised to keep the GM Janesville plant open” a true or false statement?  Now, the Ryanites have doubled-down on the falsehood, and are running a TV ad which infers Obama broke  promise to keep the plant open - even though the context of CANDIDATE Obama's quote clearly indicates the plant could stay open another hundred years IF General Motors would re-tool to make more fuel-efficient vehicles - an option GM decided not to take.

That’s why we don’t – and can’t – have political discourse any more.  We can’t agree on what’s a fact and what isn’t.

As a varsity debater in college, I learned the importance of defining terms.  Seems now we have to define facts.  And, since we can’t seem to agree on facts, we’ll remain divided and gridlocked.

The image at the top of this post is Copyright PolitiFact.

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Have Nothing to Apologize For

Islam needs to get over itself, or recognize that the cultural differences between Muslim nations and the United States are enormously different, when it comes to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

It is difficult for most Americans to understand how much religion is a part of the daily life of a Muslim.  Prayer several times each day doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.  Religion is an inseparable part of the everyday conversation of a Muslim.  An American might respond to a question from a friend, such as “are you going to your cabin up north this weekend?” with a jocular “You bet – God willing and if the creek doesn’t rise!” – but that American does not regard the “God willing” part with one percent the solemnity of the Muslim.  A Muslim’s response to that question is highly likely to contain the Arabic word/phrase “Insha’Allah”, which freely translates to “God willing”.  Except the Muslim believes the trip literally will or will not happen, depending on God’s will.

It is said by linguists that the phrase “Allahu Akbar” is the most frequently spoken phrase on Earth.  It freely translates to “God is Most Great”, and a Muslim may speak that phrase as many as 25 to 50 times each day.  There is no equivalent expression in English, except perhaps “Amen” – which really doesn’t mean the same thing.

The religion of Islam is very serious business to its followers.  There are two or three “kinds” of Islam, contrasted with the 250+ sects of Christianity.  The two principal branches are Shia and Sunni, and it took President Bush and his Cabinet several years of war to really figure that out at a visceral level.

Islam means “to submit or surrender” (to God’s will) – and a Muslim is one who submits to God.

The founders of our nation and the framers of our Constitution, the way I look at it, wanted to make sure that there was never an “official, state religion” (Church of England) and the way I see it, they wanted to make sure that citizens could follow any religion of their choosing.  This is NOT a “Christian nation” or anything of the sort.  Although we’ve put “In God We Trust” on our coins since 1864, and on our paper money since the McCarthy-driven fear of Godless Communists since 1957, the way I look at it, God is God – and God is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Christian in any way.  God is God.

The founders of our nation and the framers of our constitution, the way I look at it, placed great importance on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  In fact, historians say the First Amendment (which guarantees both) was added to the Constitution (along with several other amendments) because of resistance in some quarters to ratifying a Constitution which didn’t guarantee enough civil liberties.

Now, regarding these recent uprisings and murders in some of the Middle Eastern nations (“Muslim nations”, where Islam is the official, state religion).  Some say it was driven by the disgustingly amateurish film made in California which paints Muhammad in a bad light.

This film was not made by, endorsed by, and did not involve the government of the United States in any way.  Hence, the government of the United States, the way I see it, has nothing to apologize for to anyone.

Muslim uprisings against anyone or anything they deem disrespectful to their Prophet or their religion are as predictable as the sunrise, and have been going on since the 7th Century.

Google apparently understands the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights better than the White House.  When the White House asked Google to block access to the film in Muslim nations, Google said “no.”

This is the kind of freedom the Tea People should be championing.  We have nothing to apologize for.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day We'll Never Forget

Like so many of my friends in broadcasting, I was on the air live when the first airplane hit the World Trade Center; I remember the confusion and uncertainty, and then the dawning realization, confirmed when the second plane hit the other tower, that these were deliberate acts and that our nation was at war.

Broadcasters, particularly news anchors, are trained to deal with getting information to the public and putting their emotions on hold as best they can.  You need all your powers of concentration to deal with disseminating accurate information as it unfolds in front of your eyes, gathering facts from multiple sources, synthesizing the information, and relaying it to your audience.

On this day 11 years ago, our son was a freshman at UW-Madison and our daughter was a senior at LaFollette High School.  Far in the back of my mind, as I did my best to serve the audience, were the nagging questions “what’s next – are the kids safe?” and “how is this horrible attack going to change the world they will inherit?”

I’m struck by how many of the friends I was working with that day – friends who have in so many cases done what the broadcasting industry demands and moved hundreds or thousands of miles away, to take another step up the career ladder – have posted remembrances of the day on social media sites, and how clearly they recall the events of that horrible day, and how it has affected their lives so markedly.

My first awareness of the events came from the TV monitor in my studio.  I did TV newscasts on Channel 14 at 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00 AM, and suddenly the picture switched from the program usually airing on Channel 14 at that time, to a live CBS news feed.  I looked at the smoke streaming from one of the World Trade Center towers, and saw the secret news hotline extension light up at nearly the same time.  It was a call from the director at Channel 14, saying they were switching to the live CBS feed for coverage of - whatever was going on in New York - and he had to get off the line.

Why would there be flames coming out of that building and so much smoke streaming into the sky?  Some sort of explosion or fire?  I switched my headset to "TV Audio" and....the world changed forever.

I have saved hours of audio from what our on-air teams did that day; I’ve never listened to it, but I’ll never be able to part with it.  I remember the numb feeling I had as I walked from the news studio a few steps down the hallway to the studio of Q-106, where my friends John Flint and Tammy Lee  were doing their top-rated morning show (which they've since taken to San Diego), and saying “there’s something going on in New York City this morning – I may need to break in quite a bit.”

As that unforgettable morning wore on, I wondered in the back of my mind if our son would be drafted to serve in the military, to fight whichever nation had attacked us, in the war that was certain to follow. There are still well over 80-thousand troops in Afghanistan right now and countless others deployed in foreign lands in the aftermath of the attacks 11 years ago, and on average, one American soldier is killed every day in the ongoing war.

I remember the kindness and generosity of so many of our local emergency responders and emergency government officials, who, of their own volition, called the newsroom to offer their expertise to help our audience better understand what the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority, and the scores of other NYC public safety officials were facing that day, and what preparations and precautions were being taken locally.  I recall the manager of the Dane County Regional Airport calling in to help explain what was going on with the air traffic system, and what was being done here to deal with the events in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania.

As the morning progressed to mid-afternoon,  we had a full contingent of news people and volunteers helping in the news room, and the big boss came into the studio and said “great job – we’ve got it covered now – go home and get some rest and prepare for another long day tomorrow.”

Early the next morning, long before I was scheduled to go on the air with the first newscast of the day, while I was writing copy updates, I remember a call to our secret newsroom “hotline” phone from a friend in the local emergency government structure (I’m still protecting him as a news source 11 years later by not giving his name or specifics) telling me “my God, Tim – New York is asking us how many body bags we have available – you can’t use this on-air but if the subject does come up, here’s my cell phone number and I’ll go on with you if this becomes an open question”.  We still, at that point, were getting widely varying estimates of how many people actually lost their lives at “ground zero.”

We all have our own special, vivid memories of that day.

In some ways, our nation has still not “recovered” from those horrible acts of terrorism eleven years ago; and every American’s life has been touched directly in some way by the events of 9-11. 

I’m confident none of us who lived through that day and its aftermath will ever forget.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Truth: The Recurring Theme

Jack Nicholson’s famous character in “A Few Good Men” suggested Tom Cruise’s character may not be able to handle the truth.

Paul Newman’s character in “The Verdict” said truth was hard to find, and that you don’t come by it easily.

Al Gore insisted global warming was “An Inconvenient Truth.”

One of my college professors (Dennis Greene, Ph.D.) taught his logic class that there are at least three kinds of truth: objective truth, subjective truth, and putative truth.

I’ve done a great deal of thinking about the truth as it relates to the political world.  Vladimir Lenin and Paul Josef Goebbels both cynically said a lie told often enough becomes the truth.

Plenty of untruths are told during any political campaign.  White lies; shading of the truth; partial truths; outright falsehoods; some say, with resignation, that it’s all just part of the game these days.

Philosopher and educator Stanwood Cobb said our character determines our destiny, because our character determines our deeds, and from our deeds flows our destiny.

My background as a collegiate debater and later as a news anchor made clear to me the concept that there are two sides to most stories.  I learned that some things – which we used to call facts – are generally not debatable propositions.  And I learned that some stories should not be “balanced” with an alternate viewpoint.  But this prism doesn’t work with politics.

What set me off on this rant about truth was watching David Gregory interview Mitt Romney on “Meet the Press” Sunday.  This will come as a shock to some of my friends, but I really am interested in what Mitt Romney has to say.  I am, from early childhood, a very independent cuss.  I do not identify with any political party. Under tough questioning by Gregory, Romney said there were many parts of “Obamacare” that he liked, and wouldn’t change.  That was the Mitt Romney who governed Massachusetts several years ago: practical, as opposed to idealistic; willing to compromise for the common good; able to see differing points of view and synthesize a solution.

A few hours later, perhaps after his handlers had seen the entire Meet the Press interview, Romney walked back (as they say in political circles these days) the comments about health care, and said, at a campaign appearance, that the only solution was the complete repeal of “Obamacare”.  Once again, his persona had changed to the “severely conservative” politician he claimed to be during the Republican Presidential debates.

I do not make this observation as a “gotcha”, which is so disgustingly a part of the news media’s M.O. today.  I wondered if the “whole truth” of what Romney said later in the day Sunday was that yes, he would repeal Obamacare (as if he actually could), but he would reinstate those parts of it that he said he liked, on Meet the Press interview.

I see parallels between Romney’s campaign and Tommy Thompson’s campaign.  I wonder if the Romney who governed Massachusetts from 2002 to 2006 is the “real” Romney; I wonder if the Tommy Thompson who governed Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001 is the “real” Tommy Thompson.  Both have courted the Tea Party vote.  Both must constantly insist they’re hard-core conservatives (because so few believe they actually are).

I guess the Paul Newman character (attorney Frank Galvin) in “The Verdict” had it right: it’s tough to come by the truth.  Too often, it’s not that easy to ferret out.  And it’s hard to be sure you really have arrived at the truth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You Want The Truth? You Can't Handle The Truth

Paul Ryan is not going to stop saying it was President Obama’s fault that Janesville GM shut down; he’s not going to stop saying President Obama broke a promise to keep the plant going; and it appears talk show hosts and TV interviewers of all stripes are not going to stop calling him on it (as they did on CBS again this morning).

Ryan does not care what the fact-checkers say, and is not ever going to “cave” in an interview and say “OK, maybe you’re right; GM shut the plant down because it was the oldest GM plant in the nation, and it made gas-guzzling SUV’s, for which demand has been down since gas prices went north” or anything of the sort.

Paul Ryan doesn’t care what YOU think; he’s sending a message to the so-called “low-information” voters to implant and reinforce the idea that President Obama is bad and wrong.  He couldn’t care less that the fact-checkers can nail him to the cross on so many of the things he said in his acceptance speech.  He’s staying on-message and on-target to reach the 10 percent (or fewer) people who will swing the November election.

The technique is effective.

We are now a nation of people who operate with our own notion of what a “fact” is.  We cannot have discussion or compromise or move forward together, because we simply don’t agree on underlying problems.  Facts.

Here’s how well the technique works:  take the acceptance speech (and stump speech) line that goes something like “Under President Obama, America’s Credit Rating was downgraded; under Governor Romney, Massachusetts’ Credit Rating went up”.  This is a factual statement.

But then there’s that pesky “truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth” thing.  The whole truth of the credit downgrade during the Obama presidency, according to the agencies that determine the nation's credit rating, is that it happened because Paul Ryan and the House Republicans, fronted by John Boehner, played chicken with the debt ceiling, and refused for days on end to raise the ceiling (which they did their best to infer meant “more borrowing, more debt”).  Ths made our creditors very nervous, and that's what caused the downgrade. But this “whole truth” aspect has no bearing whatsoever on low-information voters.

There was a textbook case on point last night on one of the local TV news channels, when the anchorette repeated the Ryan line about the credit rating went down under Obama but Massachusetts’ went up under Romney, as she was doing narrative over some footage of Ryan campaigning somewhere or other.

Al Gore’s famously misquoted line about the internet meant the fact-checkers hounded him during that campaign, digging up other stuff Gore said that was more “interpretation” than fact, particularly his comments about global warming (before it became “global climate change”).  Ryan’s recent episode of faulty memory about his marathon time, so easily fact-checked and contradicted, might be a more clear signal that he’s not at all concerned with “objective truth”….and may be the “little white lie” that puts the fact-checkers on double-secret overtime duty to check every Ryan utterance from that point on.

But, Ryan won’t care.  You want the truth (to quote a line made famous in “A Few Good Men”)?  Well, let me paraphrase a few lines from the Paul Newman movie “The Verdict”: the truth isn’t that easy to come by.  Sometimes you have to look pretty hard for it.

Truth and fact are not the same thing.

In this, and so many other cases, it’s fair to say a lot of people really can’t handle the truth.

Getty Images holds the copyright to the picture of Paul Ryan at the top of this post.