Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Loaded Question

A common practice in politics is the use of the loaded question; that is, a question with a false or questionable presupposition designed to mislead the reader or listener. A typical example of this often used in logics classes is the question “Have you stopped beating your wife.” It presupposes that you have beaten your wife in the past. No matter how one answers a question like this, the listener will often have doubts about the veracity of the answer.

The Republicans are masters at the use of the loaded question. Take for example, the inclusion in one of the health care bills of a provision giving the option for an elderly person to discuss end-of-life issues with his or her doctor. End-of-life issues could be anything from the discussion of hospice care for a chronically ill person through living wills and directives to funeral planning. These are issues that are commonly discussed today – and should be – but are often not covered by one’s medical insurance.

All it took was for Sarah Palin to make the charge that the government health reformers were creating death panels whose task it would be to decide who would live and who would die. Of course that is a charge based on a totally false presupposition, but it was enough to blow this much needed provision right out of the water.

Members of the Middletown Republican Club – I always try to distinguish them from the good, decent registered Republican voters who are my friends and neighbors and whom I have met in my travels throughout Middletown Township – have been perfecting the art of the loaded question for years.

In a recent mailer to residents of the Village of Flowers Mill, they basically ask why I would refuse to engage the voters in a debate. They took a statement I made out of context – that I would be reluctant to accept an invitation to debate at the Village of Flowers Mill – and exclaimed with great flourish that “We find it outrageous that any sitting elected official would refuse to engage the citizens of our community so voters could better understand the positions of every candidate for office.” (Not that anyone could understand their positions on the issues that face Middletown Township from their literature, but more on that tomorrow.)

The article in question was about a resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors allowing Township Hall to be used for a political debate, which would be televised so every resident in the Township would have the opportunity to view it. Given that premise, I said I would be reluctant to hold a debate in the Village of Flowers Mill since the audience would be restricted to members of this community when we now have the means to reach all residents of the Township. A fact our Republican opponents neglected to mention is that the president of the Village of Flowers Mill’s Board agreed that a debate in Township Hall would be preferable.

Also left out was the fact that one of their candidates was quoted in that same article saying that they were contacting the League of Women Voters to set up a debate. This, of course, never happened.

I am sure a lot worse is coming. When candidates don’t have any issues to run on, they attack, distort and obfuscate to try to cover their own inadequacies. Now there – inadequacies – is something they have in abundance.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shredder Truck in Middletown - Saturday, 9/26

If you type “identity theft statistics” in Google, you will end up with a few million results. If you visit even just a few of the links, you will find alarming statistics:

1. The number of identity theft cases continues to increase each year – one study reported a 22% increase from 2007 to 2008.
2. One third of identity theft victims spend 4-6 months trying to recover and repair the damage caused.
3. Low-tech methods, like stealing a wallet or going through trash to find sensitive information, is the most common for stealing your identity.

There are many ways to help prevent identify theft, and one of them is to shred sensitive documents (including your credit card receipts) instead of just discarding them. If you don’t have a shredder or if you have years of documents to be shredded, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 26th. There will be a shredder truck available from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm in the parking lot of the old Levitz Store in Levittown (1661 E. Lincoln Highway). This event is sponsored by the Democratic Party of Middletown Township, and is free for all Middletown residents.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Family Caregiers: You Are Not Alone

On October 10, I will be attending the reunion of the Neshaminy High School Class of '64. I am also a member of the organizational committee. One rule we have for our meetings is that no one is allowed to talk about their aches and pains or other maladies.

However, something often discussed during my past 10 years working with this group is the difficulties some of us have had in caring for aging parents. It is the reason I returned some 12 years ago to the home I grew up in.

Family caregiving is virtually exploding in the U.S. Studies have estimated that approximately 26 million adults in the U.S. provide unpaid assistance to adult family members who have a disability or chronic illness. And, according to the National Family Caregiver Support Program, the stress associated with performing family caregiving tasks can result in an increased risk of infectious disease, depressive symptoms, and chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Shortly after moving back here to help in the care of my ailing father, I joined Children of Aging Parents (CAPS), a national organization founded right here in the Levittown portion of Middletown Township by Mirca Liberti some 32 years ago. CAPS provides information and support to caregivers, and the assurance that they are not alone. Shortly after that, I was encouraged to join the Board of Directors and served as president for a year before it was decided to merge with Contact Greater Philadelphia about six years ago.

While CAPS has a number of caregiver support groups in 15 states, I realized some time ago that we could never adequately serve the needs of all the caregivers who desperately need help, information and encouragement. As a result, I started and still maintain an online caregivers support group. This group currently has more than 900 members who share stories, discuss resources and vent frustrations.

If you are the caregiver of an elderly parent, relative or friend, and the stress seems to be unbearable, remember that you are not alone. Visit the CAPS Web site to see if there is a support group near you. If not, look in the right-hand column of the home page for the box to join our free online support group. You will be welcomed the moment you send your first post.