My Turn: Politicians lie; voters suspend disbelief

Posted: Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I remember a Schwarzenegger movie called "Commando" where he first told one of the bad guys he would not kill him but later, while holding the guy over a cliff, said, "I lied."

He still does. He says he can handle all of California's problems with just cuts (no details, just press photo ops) and no new taxes (Warren Buffet suggested property taxes).

For most of my life I've heard politicians say all you have to do is cut waste and fraud from government and health care and that takes care of it. You'd think after 40 years, they'd give a rest or get on with it.

I remember the Hammond years (25 years ago) when we had the Grace report and they "found" so many savings in Alaska government. I think we were going to save more money than the budget had in it. Like the gasoline saving devices where, if you used enough of them, the gas eventually has to come pouring out of your tank as you drive.

Lying is a way of life for politicians. They're not pathological about it; the truth just doesn't work for them. Politicians aren't stupid; they have the power and they intend to keep it. They know the public reacts positively to fairytale stories about easy revenues, no new taxes and painless budget cuts. Don't blame them - politicians only want to keep their jobs, just like the rest of us.

Do you remember the president telling us about having to be in Iraq maybe five years? Or costing us hundreds of billions of dollars? That the combat was over? And now we get the one-year troop rotations so reminiscent of the Vietnam era.

As to those MIA weapons of mass destruction, it seems that's just part of "the ends justify the means" strategy. Don't worry, they'll eventually find the WMD. The CIA and FBI just need more time to manufacture them and the evidence properly, for believability sake.

Our deputy defense secretary said several weeks ago that no one could have foreseen the collapse of public order after the government was removed in Iraq. I think anyone with a fifth of an operating brain cell could have predicted that, but he obviously believes the public has even less.

I support our troops; anyone who went through the Vietnam era should. But I don't want American soldiers killed mostly because a few old oil men want to get business for their companies, settle old scores, help buddies like the Saudis stay in business so they can gouge us more and ply their religion, while the real war against terrorism effectively stalls.

It's bad enough the Justice Department minions simply can't stop lying about what's in the Patriot Act. Anything that unites the far right and the far left against it bears looking into. Don't you just trust your FBI and police to wisely use their "sneak and peak" powers?

The following is a good summary: "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country," said Hermann Goering, Hitler's reich-marshal at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII.

And, "the greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed," Adolf Hitler wrote in his book, "Mein Kampf."

However, if you want politicians to stop lying to you, you have to be honest with yourself first.

Anselm Staack of Juneau is a CPA and attorney who has been in Alaska since 1974.

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