Independent Investigations
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ACCEPTABLE LIES?


I have heard several instances lately of politicians using the term “misspoke”.  The other day, when asked about Chuck Grassleys “death panel” statements, Claire McCaskill said that she believed Senator Grassley had misspoken.  Using the term “misspoke” relieves you of the burden of saying that the other person lied.  This is an occasion when a prominent Democrat used non-accusatory language to soften the impact of her statement.  We wouldn’t want to offend a member of the other party now would we?

  I guess the current political environment has somehow given rise to the “acceptable lies” method of advancing a given cause.  As Americans, have we become immune to the lack of truthfulness in our elected officials?  Have we come to the point where we accept the lies we are being fed because it is the only way politicians can get things done?  Where is the point where we become responsible for the lies because we do not demand truth?  When is enough enough?

I have a few important questions to ask about our current health care debate.

  1. If representatives of a particular ideological school of thought resort to lies, is it an indication that their argument is not valid? 
  2. If the truth won’t get the job done for you, will telling lies improve your position?
  3. When a political party uses lies to “even the score” in a particular battle is it because they are hoping their lies are perceived as truth?
  4. Where can interested individuals go to discover the truth about statements made in the political arena? 

If you ever wonder whether or not  your elected official is lying to you, or to others on your behalf, there are two terrific places to turn for clarity.  FactCheck.org and Politifact are organizations who are widely respected for their groundbreaking work exposing political falsehoods.   Both organizations look closely at topics of political controversy and do intensive objective fact-checking.  Neither organization has a political axe to grind.  Both are independent and hold members of both parties feet to the fire when it comes to their political stances and proclamations.  If a Democrat is lying it is exposed.  If a Republican is lying it is exposed. 

The health care debate that is going on during the month of August has had its share of outrageous claims being made from the sides involved.  I thought I would give a quick summary of some of the more outrageous claims being made along with their relative truthfulness as determined by FactCheck.org and Politifact. 

Lie #1 – Sarah Palin – Sarah claims that seniors and others will have to stand before Obama’s death panel so it can be determined if they are worthy of health care.

  • Gets a “Pant’s on Fire” from  Politifact.com (Highest rating of lies)
  • “Palin’s statement sounds more like a science fiction movie than part of an actual bill before Congress” – Politifact.com

Lie #2 – John Boehner – House Republican Leader – Claimed in an editorial in the National Review that the House Democratic reform plan “will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard earned tax dollars”.

  • “In a key version of the bill, committee members went to great pains to include an amendment to ensure that federal money is not used for abortion coverage”. – Politifact
  • “We don’t see anything to support Boehner’s claim that taxpayers would subsidize abortions.  We rule his statement False”. – Politifact

Lie #3 – Family Research Council Commercial – Shows an elderly man claiming that his insurance won’t pay for his surgery but that he was forced to pay for abortions for others.  “Our greatest generation, denied care.  Our future generation, denied life.”

  • “None of the overhaul measures that have made it through the committee level in Congress say that abortion will be covered, and one of them explicitly says that no public funds will be used to finance the procedure. ”  – FactCheck.org

Lie #4 – Liberty Council (Conservative) – Claims that health care reform will establish “school-based health clinics.  Your children will be indoctrinated and your grandchildren may be aborted!”

  • Gets a “Pant’s on Fire” from  Politifact.com (Highest rating of lies)
  • “These clinics have been around for three decades, there is no language in either of the three main versions of the bill that would allow school-based clinic….to provide abortions.”  Politifact

Lie #5 – Michelle Bachman, U.S. Congresswoman – “Ezekiel Emanuel, one of President Obama’s key health care advisors says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled. So watch out if you’re disabled.” – Spoken on the floor of the House of Representatives

“To make the sensational claim that Emanuel says health care should not be extended to the disabled is a gross distortion of his position, lifted out of context from an academic paper in which he poses philosophical ideas but doesn’t necessary endorse them . We rule Bachmann’s statement False.

When individuals do not question the validity of the statements of their elected officials, political debate is reduced to rubish.  Politicians insist on lying when the truth won’t do the job.  Lying has become acceptable in the eyes of individuals who want their way regardless of the tactics used.    In short, lying works.  Our elected officials know that there will always be a large segment of the population who will believe every word eminating from their mouth.  Partisanship results in the generation and acceptance of “acceptable lies”. 

When members of a political party, accept the lies they are being told, and spread the lies for the purpose of stopping the other parties efforts, democracy becomes irrelevant.  Lies are contagious.   The only defense we have against them is to investigate them and call them what they are.  They are lies, and they are offensive.  Not only are they offensive, they shed a great deal of light into the basic nature of the liar. 

But of course, if you are caught up in the lies, the nature of your leadership isn’t all that important to you.  All you care about is stopping the advancement of ideas.  A battle won under less than truthful circumstances is a battle lost.

Take a look at FactCheck.org and Politifact.com the next time you wonder if you are believing “acceptable lies”.  If they haven’t already investigated the statements, you can email them and they will provide you with independent verification.

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