Saturday, July 25, 2015

In politics, when is a lie... a lie?

I'm rather plain spoken.  I typically mean what I say when it comes to my conclusions.

The words are typically straight-forward and don't require a great deal of parsing.

For me, for example, a lie is a lie.  A lie is saying something that you know to not be true, typically to either gain an advantage or to avoid responsibility.

In politics, that also includes the art of convincing people to vote for you... or your cause... or your project... by giving them false information... or making promises that you do not keep.

Locally, we have a large number of people in elective office who come under the "liar" sobriquet.

Tim "The Liar" Leavitt will always be known for lying to get elected.  His lie, which was obvious to me from the start, was that he did not support tolls on the CRC/Loot Rail scam when, of course, he did.

The Liar used that lie as a wedge issue to separate him from his opponent at that time in the mayoral race, "No Choice" Royce Pollard.  I called him on it for months, supporting Pollard in the general that year, because even though Pollard is/was a lowlife CRC/Loot Rail scumbag, he made no bones about it and Leavitt certainly did.

That makes Leavitt a liar.

Scott Weber is a liar.  A Brent Boger protege', Weber first ran for county clerk on the premise that he would fight to eliminate his office as an elected position.  I supported that, as long as he followed through and actually made a sincere effort to accomplish that... which he, of course, did not.

That makes Weber a liar.

Marc Boldt looked me in the eye in February of 2010 during the local GOP convention and promised me he would hold an up-or-down advisory vote on the CRC/Loot Rail scam, county wide.

Not only did he fail to hold that vote, he also told me it was because such a vote was, he was told, "unconstitutional."  Those are two obvious lies.  (Don't misunderstand me; he may well have been TOLD that... but if he was, he did nothing to verify it, and the reality is clear that the information in question was arguably false, given the number and type of advisory votes held in this county, county-wide.)

That makes Boldt a liar.

And, of course, we have my State Senator, Ann Rivers.

As is documented in various places in this blog, as a part of her platform in running for election to the senate, she wrote thus:

Pretty straight forward.  Pretty unambiguous.  No disclaimers included.

Hard not to understand.

Vote for me and I will NOT vote for an increase in the gas tax.  (Support = vote yes)

Vote for me and I will NOT vote for an increase in tab fees.  (Support = vote yes)

Except, of course, having made that pledge, she has proceeded to shatter it, not only voting for both a huge gas tax increase (the largest in this state's history) but ALSO increases in tab fees.

After all, the people of this state DID vote to keep tab fees at $30.... right?

Well, that appears to be a "lie" to me.

When you say that you are NOT going to do something and you go ahead and do it... and you've said that, say, as a condition of employment, or in this case, as a condition for election... and later, when it suits you, you go ahead and do that which you've pledged NOT to do... what do you call it?

Well,  Vancouver Deputy City Attorney And Washougal City Councilman Brent Boger tells me that is NOT a lie:  (From Lew Waters' Blog:)
  1. It was either Winston Churchill or John Maynard Keynes who said, “when the facts change, my opinion changes. What do you do sir?” Facts have changed: we have a governor who makes Christine Gregoire look like Laurleen Wallace and he proposes to impose cap and trade and carbon fuel standards by administrative fiat. The package prevents him from doing that is an example of how the package deals with a new fact. I don’t know where the idea comes from that a political officeholder can’t change their mind and can never compromise and if they do, they’re liars. I’m reminded of an event from Ronald Reagan’s first years as Governor of California. Reagan had fought against state withholding taxes. He argued that “taxes should hurt,” that withholding softened the blow, making it easier for politicians to spend more. He said: “My feet are set in concrete on this issue,”. When the state faced a serious cash-flow problem in 1971, he reversed himself and told reporters: “The sound you hear is concrete breaking up around my feet.” Was Reagan lying? What he did is not any different than what Rivers did. You frequently call people liars apparently for shock value, to offend, to entice or maybe its just anger. Whatever. I don’t think it is correct.
Much of what Brent wrote here is nonsense, done to provide cover for a close friend.  And I get that. Until the cardinal rule of honesty was broken, I was a friend as well.  What's difficult here is that the facts never changed.

And Brent is, of course, mistaken.

When Sen. Rivers made this pledge, it was clear that Gregoire was going to be gone.  She had long since announced that she was not going to run for reelection.

The pledge itself also failed to come with any disclaimer of any kind, let alone a "Facts have changed: we have a governor who makes Christine Gregoire look like Laurleen Wallace and he proposes to impose cap and trade and carbon fuel standards by administrative fiat." disclaimer.

As I have pointed out on this blog repeatedly, that is nonsense.  It's nonsense that Inslee would cut his own political throat (which I have yet to discover how he can do what no other governor in the history of this state has done: arbitrarily impose a tax increase without legislative approval) by "imposing" such a tax and it's nonsense that even if he were so inclined to do so, the transportation package would in any way keep him from accomplishing that.

Its nonsense that this happened because Inslee was elected.  In the end, Rivers' failure to include some sort of disclaimer... an "except" or "unless" clause... was a deliberate oversight.  Because imagine what would have happened if, having been asked during the campaign of, say, 2010 in the primary, "oh, yeah, by the way, can you foresee any circumstance where a campaign promise from you would be broken?" what the outcome would have been if she had said, "Sure!  If Inslee gets elected, all bets are off!"

You know... I know... and she knows... it would be Senator Jon Russell and she would have been a political footnote, ousted in the primary.

I appreciate the historical lesson from Reagan.  But the main difference here, besides the obvious, is that Reagan acknowledged he lied.  In shilling her betrayal of the voters of this district, Rivers has yet to even mention her campaign pledge violation that I can see.  And now, because of me, it's far too late for that dodge.

Obviously, Reagan was proud of what he'd done.  But another difference between Reagan and Rivers is this: We had no "serious cash flow problem" to address... particularly one that had to be addressed in this manner... in a way where the voters were cut out of the loop... deliberately... because, God forbid, we might just say "no."

"Was Reagan lying?"

Of course.  Is that even a question?

It doesn't matter how you dress up a lie... it's still a lie.  And using this kind of "reasoning" just goes to reinforce that in the political realm, it's perfectly OK, for ANY politician to say ANYTHING to get elected, because there's a certain element out there which can simply excuse absolutely anything when self-interests... or friendship... is involved.  If what Rivers did is excusable because of a "changing circumstance" that in reality, NEVER changed... then anything that any of your sort does is perfectly OK because of a self-justifying "changing circumstance."

History is replete with tyrants who justified their tyranny because of "clanging circumstance."  The "changing circumstance" dodge carries no more weight with me then "befehl ist befehl" at Nuremberg... but it was used as cover for the acts of those who believed themselves to be untouchable.

Precisely like it is for Boger covering Rivers.

So, the issue isn't that Rivers lied, or told a falsehood... or broke a pledge used to get elected.  That's stipulated.  There's no question, no doubt about it.  Boger and his ilk want to engage in extenuation and mitigation as to the "why" of it.

In Boger's world, it's the terminology at issue... the calling it something besides a lie that would make him more comfortable.
What he (Reagan) did is not any different than what Rivers did. You frequently call people liars apparently for shock value, to offend, to entice or maybe its just anger. Whatever. I don’t think it is correct.
Well, you wouldn't, Brent.  For if you did, then you'd have to react in a completely different way.

But the fact of that matter is that while you give friends like Weber and Rivers a pass... as a result of your lack of desire to internalize what they've done here... since they are, after all, your friends, and therefore appear to be as pure as the driven snow to you, evil triumphs while good men do nothing.

Reagan lied.  Leavitt Lied.  Weber lied.  Boldt lied.  And so did Rivers.

That you find the motives or the impacts of their lies acceptable somehow may either be your personal situational ethics or those of your profession.

But that doesn't change it.

As a politician, you naturally want the "flexibility" to say or do anything without being held accountable for it as long as you can remain in office and keep being re-elected.

That you don't believe the truth to be correct is utterly meaningless.

For the rest of the world, when a politician or anyone else makes a promise to achieve an aim, like, for example, "Read my lips: no new taxes," and then proceeds to act like they never uttered those words... well, we know how that ended.  (Odd, Brent, that you cherry-picked Reagan and forgot all about Bush 1.)

The simplest way for me to refer to you or anyone else as a liar is to, well, lie.  If you don't, then I don't have a problem with anyone on that score.

But to emulate the Gruber Gambit and believe that the voters are stupid?

I, therefore, leave it up to the reader:  when is a lie a lie?  And when is that lie compounded by other lies (Inslee can arbitrarily impose a tax without the legislature) and "we added that emergency clause and kept a referendum clause out because we HAD too..." (Which is a lie that sets up most of the other lies) and not because we were terrified or didn't want to go through the hassle (aka, too lazy) to convince you voters these wastes of billions were a great idea.

It's simple, really.  I have been ridiculed by some, ignored by some, insulted by some... and all because I am going after an increasingly sacred political cow for breaking her word.

But in the end, *I* didn't publish those words concerning the gas tax or tab fees; and to the best of my knowledge, no one had a gun aimed at her head to force her to publish them either.

That was her choice.  And the situational ethics that teaches us we can not trust anything anyone promises in the political realm... which obviously now also means you, Brent... is, quite frankly, a sickening betrayal.

And why you leap to Rivers' defense is your issue.  That you do it without examining the issue beyond what you've done... well, whatever.

I don't think it is correct.

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