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Duped in America

Duped:1. a person who is easily deceived or fooled; gull.2. a person who unquestioningly or unwittingly serves a cause or another person3. to make a dupe of; deceive; delude; trickdictionary.comWe are all duped. We are duped into being dopes. Perhaps the “duping” started with the idea of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. For me, the little white lies of my most innocent years were nothing compared to the cock-and-bull stories I heard in the 12 years I spent in Catholic schools.The first time I really felt duped was at age 16. The priests told us one day in class that only Catholics would go to heaven. I came home from school that day and asked my mom the same question. She backed the priests. I thought she was either a duper or a big dope.I’ve been feeling duped ever since. Maybe it’s why I am a journalist – constantly on a quest to seek out the dupers of today. They are everywhere. However, the elections are just around the corner, so I think I’ll focus on the big dupers: politicians and the media.Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis wins the “super duper” award this month. Gigi D. has changed the campaign finance rules in Colorado, and it seems to be slanted toward the GOP.The Colorado Constitution currently allows people to volunteer their time without it being considered a campaign contribution. Under Gigi’s new rules, the volunteer activities will be limited to “services provided solely on the basis of time” like bookkeeping or providing legal advice – more white-collar volunteer activities. The new Gigi rule prohibits blue-collar activities like distributing flyers throughout a neighborhood or just walking a neighborhood. According to the Denver Post, the new ruling will dampen the activities of unions and grassroots volunteers. A few anti-dupers have filed a lawsuit against Gigi – the Colorado Education Association, Rep. Michael Cerbo and a Denver resident, Vivian Stovall.It seems that Gigi decided to make these changes after Republican candidate for governor, Bob Beauprez, and two attorneys – one who works for his campaign and the other who counsels a Republican political committee – requested limits on campaign activities of small donor committees and unions. They even referenced 12 small donor committees that raised more than $1 million from anonymous donors for Democratic interests in 2004, the year the Democrats took control of the House and Senate. Gigi has changed the rule that donations under $20 don’t need a name or address behind them. All donor sources will now need to be identified.Of course, ole Gigi denies any political motivation because the rules apply to both parties. Of course, the Democrats are three times as likely to indulge in blue-collar activities and small group committees.Here’s the deal. We all know life is not fair; just like the Denver Broncos, we all get our share of the bad calls. But please don’t tell me, Gigi, that you are not politically motivated. If you think she is motivated otherwise, you are “duped in Colorado.”Here’s one for the media.In August, the Federal Communications Commission sent letters to 77 TV stations asking them about their video news releases, commonly referred to in the business as fake news. Video news releases, according to an Associated Press article, are packaged news stories with hired actors posing as reporters – the actor/reporter is paid by business or government groups. When stations air the video news releases, they are required by law to disclose to viewers “the nature, source and sponsorship of the material that they are viewing,” according to the FCC.Apparently, the news stations in question are misleading the public by not referencing the videos as advertising. The AP article quoted FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.”You can’t tell any more the difference between what’s propaganda and what’s news,” Adelstein said. Really? Duped, de duped!Here’s another media duping. Did you know some of your national newspaper columnists have ties to big business and special interest groups? Many of those columnists are paid to promote agendas and attack critics – and they do it under the guise of journalism. The paid columnists are supposed to reveal their connections to the publisher, but they don’t always do that, and oftentimes a publisher ignores the ties.According to an article in the Sept. 10 St. Petersburg Times (Florida), the following national columnists have sided with various issues because they were paid to do so.Were you duped by any of these guys?Direct from the St. Pete Times:”James K. Glassman, a prominent syndicated columnist, denounced Super Size Me, a movie critical of McDonald’s. Readers were not told that McDonald’s is a major sponsor of a Web site hosted by Glassman.”John Semmens, a policy adviser at the Heartland Institute, wrote a column for the Louisville Courier-Journal that called Wal-Mart “a major force in promoting prosperity for everyone.” Readers were not told that his think tank had received more than $300,000 from the Walton Family Foundation, run by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.”Steven Milloy, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote a column in the Washington Times that sided with the oil industry against windfall profits taxes. Readers weren’t told that groups closely affiliated with Milloy have received at least $180,000 from ExxonMobil.”How about a Pulitzer for the best writer/duper?Finally, last month I wrote about Amendment 38 and the reasons to support it with a yes vote. Those who oppose it are spewing untruths and using scare tactics to counter the proponents. It’s OK to disagree, but it’s not OK to manipulate the ballot language to persuade the voter. Moreover, it appears those against Amendment 38 have a deep fear that opening up the petition process will threaten all of society. I think they are more concerned with losing control.Here’s what the Humane Society of the United States had to say about Amendment 38.”Vote Yes on Amendment 38. Citizens of Colorado have historically faced major obstacles in having their voices heard via petitioning their government. The Petition Rights Amendment (Amendment 38) seeks to reverse that trend by halting measures that threaten citizens’ rights to bring issues before the voters and enabling Coloradoans to have a more active role in shaping their democracy.”Petitioning has led to successful passage of ballot initiatives in Colorado to outlaw inhumane steel-jaw leghold traps, forbid the use of dogs in hunting bears and other predators, and prohibit bear baiting.”So, it’s time we grow up and bid the tooth fairy good-bye. But there is one absolute truth that has been handed down throughout the generations: My dad used to say, “Don’t believe everything you hear” … or read or see. Let’s stop being duped in America.marylou@newfalconherald.com

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