Lies and Truths

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me… well, so says the quote. But honestly, with so many conflicting claims and lies, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by my own inability to figure out what’s actually true. Whether it’s lying through omission, lying through misdirection, or outright lies, it’s awfully hard to extract nuggets of truth from the noise.

So, being a civic minded individual, I did some extensive research, and am pleased to offer this guide to detecting who is lying during this joyful campaign season:

  • Anyone who explicitly claims to be telling the truth – is lying. Groups with “truth” in their name, lie. “Swift Boats for Truth” – dead giveaway. If they weren’t lying, they wouldn’t need to convince you otherwise.
  • Every political advertisement lies (by omission- obviously).
  • All issues ads lie (you know, the kind that aren’t sponsored by the candidate, but rather by their best friend, leading contributor, ex college roommate, etc.)
  • All news broadcasts lie. The one exception: Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, which claims to lie, has a higher degree of truth than any news broadcast. This is not surprising because all comedy is ultimately based on truth.
  • Anyone claiming the other side is lying, is lying (Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, you know the type).
  • All the candidates and their spokespersons lie. You see, if they actually said anything truthful the media would squeeze it of any ounce of subtlety and portray it as a mistake or gaff. So the campaigns must stick with carefully polished and scripted sound bites – lies.
  • Anyone who mentions 9/11 in a political context more than once in a speech or conversation is lying (it’s the ultimate misdirection). Oh, except for Rudolph Giuliani, who’s the only guy who’s earned the right to say it twice in a speech before it’s a lie.
  • Anyone who talks extensively about how great America is, is lying. Real patriots know America is great – we don’t need politicians going on about it. We’d rather hear them explain HOW they’re going to keep America great. And how we’ll pay for it. Specifics please?
  • There are probably more – comments are welcome.

Finding the truth is clearly a greater challenge than I ever imagined. And it poses some fundamental challenges when it comes to voting this November. But since it is clear that lies far outnumber the truth, the following axiom, stripped of spin and manipulation, must be fundamentally true:

Since all politicians and media are lying (either through omission, misdirection, or outright), you cannot predict their future actions based on what they say. This implies that you can only anticipate their future actions based on past actions of themselves and their supporters.

Ok, we’re making progress. Having written off the media, the candidates, the ads, the campaigns, and statistics (which are also subject to manipulation and later correction), it becomes remarkably easy to choose a candidate. Let’s consider the major topics:

  • Iraq & Terrorism:
    Both sides now agree that the arguments for going into Iraq were either outright lies, or the results of gross incompetence. Frankly, I supported going into Iraq because I could not imagine our government either lying about WMD, or being so grossly incompetent as to go to war without an incredibly high degree of certainty on the issue. Spin aside, the buck stops there: It was either a lie or gross incompetence.
    If you believe the current administration has learned from their mistakes, and has become highly competent at intelligence and foreign policy, you should stick with Bush. If you’re one of those people who, if you had an employee who lied or was grossly incompetent, would fire them, you should choose Kerry.
  • Taxes:
    This one is simple. You either choose a Tax and Spend Democrat. Or a Borrow and Spend Republican. Sorry, you can’t have a true responsible economic conservative (control spending and balance the budget) – that was Clinton and he can’t run again.
  • Economy:
    If you’re making more money, have better job security, and your friends and family are happily employed, the economy is good. If your economic status is uncertain, and you know people who are out of work, the economy is bad. Since the media and statistics lie, all you can base it on is what you see around you.
  • Social Issues:
    If aborting fetuses and gays getting married is more important to you than security, taxes or the economy, you know who to choose.
  • Health Insurance:
    If you don’t have health insurance or can’t afford it, and want it, choose Kerry. It’s virtually certain the Democrats will do more than the Republicans on that score.
  • Civil Liberties:
    If you’re willing to give up more privacy and civil rights in the hope of gaining more security, stick with Bush. If you’re willing to accept more risk in order to keep privacy and civil rights, choose Kerry.

Those are the big ones. There are lots of other issues, but it’s much harder to distill the truth out of lies on those, or to figure out which “experts” might be closer to the truth. But I’ll keep working on it.

17 Responses to “Lies and Truths”

  1. Liron Says:

    “If aborting fetuses and gays getting married is more important to you than security, taxes or the economy, you know who to choose.”
    The way that’s written makes it sound like Kerry is the candidate for people who are for abortion and gay marriage above all, and Bush is the candidate for everyone else.

  2. Eli Draluk Says:

    My support for Kerry is based off a simple principal, I want our nation to be more secure.

    Yet Bush seems to be running on the same platform, too bad his version of it is a lie.

    In the years since 9/11 we as a nation have become less secure. Terrorism worldwide is going up, our newly created “Department of Homeland Security” is a big beurocratic mess, and we have an administration that is not focusing on the terrorist threat.

    Issue 1: The response post 9/11. We went after Afghanistan, but never got troops in, in time to capture critical Al Queda leadership. We then managed to leave less then 10,000 troops, to manage an entire country, and to provide 52$ per person in aid per year. To compare, Bosnia got close to a 1000$.

    Issue 2: Iraq. In a war on terrorism, guns are often the worse weapons to use. We see this in chechnya, the longer the conflict goes, the more determined the other side gets. We did not beat Russia by fighting it, we out idealized Russia. In a sense, Iraq proves Al-Queda right, about invasion of arab countries by the US, and serves as a national recruiting poster. Sure, we cannot pull out now, but we should not have been there.

    Issue 3: Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia. These are all countries that are very unstable, and are teaching intolerance and hate. Instead of using the goodwill post 9/11 with them, we squandered it on Iraq. That 80 billion dollars a year could have funded secular, open education, instead of our oil money going to fund madrasses.

    Issue 4: Our homeland. Our homeland security is key. By homeland security I do not mean an Alert system, but proper funding, proper training. We are not prepared for a massive attack, especially with WMD on our soil, even 3 years afterwards.

    When after 9/11 we should have partnered up and gone after the terrorists, militarily, and idea wise. We should have raised taxes and defended our people. In the end what happened? We invaded a country that did not commit what we said it did, a country with a wealth of oil, just as Bin-Laden predicted. We told our people the best thing we can do is shop, and lowered taxes, as well as laid off 4000 New York City cops.

    I don’t know how John Kerry can be worse, but I know how he can be better. He believes that we should not open up Firehouses in Baghdad while closing them here.

    He understands the commitment to homeland security and that is why he has my vote.

  3. Christian Gross Says:

    Disillusionment that is what is happening! I even think that most likely Bush will win, and by a sizable majority. Unless Kerry does something that is a miracle Bush will win because Bush understands Disillusionment of the voter. It happened in Germany, and it is happening in the US. Recently, the 1000th death occured in Iraq. What did Kerry say? Something apologetic, critical and argumentative on why Iraq is/was bad. Ok, I agree with Kerry, but Kerry is arguing the wrong way. Consider Bush’s reaction, which was “Liberty will win, as it always has”. Right there Bush won the argument. USA = Liberty = Iraq = Hardship was worth it. Bush talks the American dream and those folks that are American citizens believe in the American dream. OTHERWISE they would not be American citizens. Not believing in Liberty would mean not believing in what America stands for. It is a very simple argument.

    Ok, so some folks may say, hey that is nothing more than some pomp and big talk. It is not reality. Yes that is right it is not logical and not reality, but right now voters are disllusioned. People in the West do not know where the West is going and they will vote for those that best stands for the values that they believe in. This happened in Germany. The opposition used every logical argument on why Schroeder should not be in power. In fact Schroeder said in a previous election that he should not be in power if the unemployment level is not below X. Well for the election unemployment was quite a bit above X. In other words the voters knew Schroeder screwed up. Why did they vote for Schroeder? Because his platform was the defense of the German socialist system and that it should be kept up. Just like Bush and his argument for liberty. You cannot argue the merits of the beliefs. Those arguments cannot be fought by using logic nor by the fact that things are going bad. Beliefs are what makes a country unique and builds the fibre of every citizen. I even think that if Moore shows Fahrenheit 9/11 on TV before the election it will make voters vote for Bush.

    Can Kerry win this argument? No idea, Nov 2 will tell…

  4. David Stull Says:

    I would add to your list of “lies” – generalizations & stereotypes.

  5. JasonH Says:

    I don’t think politics can be that simply stated.
    Unless you follow it closely, like I try to do, politics will appear to be all about sound bites. But there is substance, just under the surface, but you have to rub off the presentation layer to get to it.

    Politics is more like marketing, which most programmers and technophiles can’t stand anyway. You don’t exactly lie, but you give people little snippets of truth and hope they’re convinced enough not to snoop around and find out the whole story. Not because you are necessarily lying, but because you want to control the information. Why should Bush reveal documents? Why should Kerry release his military records? This information is potentially more fodder for the other guy to use against you. SO it makes more sense to give out limited and controlled info until the election is over.

  6. Darrell Says:

    “(control spending and balance the budget) – that was Clinton and he can’t run again” – The only reason Clinton had enough money was that we had an unprecedented economic boom, one that was initiated not by him, but by Bush senior. True he did spend less than budget, but the budget was abnormally bloated, a condition we will likely not see again for a long time. 🙂

  7. Scott Says:

    What about the “Truth” anti-smoking campaign? http://www.thetruth.com

  8. Marty Fried Says:

    I think you can add:
    People who claim to be supporting you, “Your man in …”, but have never even met you.

  9. antasm Says:

    “If aborting fetuses..”
    Don’t you mean “Sucking the brians out of a 3rd trimester baby?”

    I dont like it when people use the word ‘fetus’ – its only used to make abortion sound better. When was the last time you walked up to a prenant woman and said “So, how far along is the fetus?”

    Other than that, i have to agree with most of your points.

  10. JJ Says:

    You’re correct, Antasm. None of my friends asked how the fetus was doing. They were quite fond of asking “whassup with the zygote”. And I also agree that sucking Brians out of a fetus is a terrible thing. We should ban that immediately. After all, a Brian is a terrible thing to waste!

    I have yet another idea to add to the mix. In my mere decade or so of voting, I’ve never voted “for” anyone. I’ve only voted against people. I bet most of America is the same way… especially during this election and the previous one.

    I also offer the generalization that republicans want to regulate what a person can be. Democrats want to regulate what a person can have.

  11. Clancy Says:

    No matter what your position is on issue, Kerry either supports it, or supported it before he voted against it. Either way, Kerry is your man.

  12. Graham Astles Says:

    Another reliable sign of lies, smoke and mirrors… Invoking GOD in a political context. What hypocrisy, since it is evidently to curry favor with a specific group, and to deflect critisism (who want’s to be against God?) and shut down any intelligent debate.

    Freedom of religion is good. Using your beliefs to be a better person is great. Using it as a political tool is immoral. Let them worship in a private, personal manner, and let their actions preach for them.

    Our worst world enemy is terrorism that is nurtured by fundamentalist extremism. Our leaders should do anything they can to avoid using religion in a way that will legitimize the terrorists’ discourse.

  13. Fred Bernal Says:

    Though your comments are somewhat tongue-in-cheek if you believe the administration lied about WMD then you believe the previous admin lied as well as other intelligence agencies around the world. And I find that hard to believe. The president was doing his job – keeping America safe. That is not incompentency. You’re just being a Monday-morning quarterback now that we know there wasn’t WMD.

    Taxes:
    Remember, Clinton couldn’t have balanced the budget without the help of the Republican congress.

    Economy:
    I agree that the economy depends alot on your own personal situation. But people should not try to extrapolate their situation to everyone – see the big picture.

    Social Issues:
    All the issues are important – I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Health Insurance:
    The democrats will certainly do something here but will it work? Likely not. It’ll just make things worse.

    Civil Liberties:
    Kerry voted for the Patriot Act! It is commendable to change your mind when faced with maturity or changing circumstances but he really does change his mind all the time! Kerry has no real beliefs.

  14. Farkas Says:

    Last time I checked, there were a half-dozen candidates for POTUS. If you don’t like either Bush or Kerry, why do you advocate voting for either one? Libertarians are closer to my cup of tea than the others.

  15. JohnF Says:

    On the topic of Libertarians. The current candidate for that party was a former programmer from Austin. That has got to hold some weight with this crowd. =)

  16. JJ Says:

    One amplifying addition to my previous comment:

    Here is a money-where-your-mouth-is example of someone whose purpose in voting is specifically to cast a ballot against Bush. Check out http://www.GeorgeSoros.com. His press statement is a skreed against Bush, but says nothing in support of Kerry.

    I like what Farkas said, I’d love to vote for someone outside of the big two parties. BUT… I just have to be cautious with my one and only vote. I’d gladly do it in a system that would cascade the vote to my second choice when the first choice lost.

  17. Bill Storage Says:

    Very good point concerning the veracity of statements that proclaim their own truthfulness. It brings to mind the sacred books I turn to for guidance (honestly, now):

    For Jews-
    Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king. 1 Kings 1:43

    Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Isaiah 45:15

    The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; Jeremiah 15:11

    And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth. 1 Kings 17:24

    For Christians-
    The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, [2 Cor 11:11] knows that I am not lying. 2 Corinthians 11:31

    I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit Romans 9:1

    (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you [Rom 9:1; 2 Cor 1:23; 11:31] before God that I am not lying.) Galatians 1:20

    For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Timothy 2:7

    For Muslims-
    Surely We have sent you with the truth as a bearer of good news and as a warner. [The Cow 2:119]

    Those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; [The Cow 2:144]

    He has revealed to you the Book with truth, verifying that which is before it, [The Family of Imran 3:3]

    This was a punishment We gave them on account of their rebellion, and We are surely Truthful. [The Cattle 6:146]

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