Wednesday, October 6

Polygraph Bell Needed Now!

I don't have time to expose fully all the falsehoods that Dick Cheney let fly shamelessly or incompetently (or both) in his debate with John Edwards in Cleveland last night, but I have do have a recommendation to make.
The "Commission on Presidential Debates," which is very keen to micromanage these exchanges, needs to install a polygraph-controlled alarm bell in front of each speaker for both of the remaining debates. Once either man launches a falsehood into our public space, as Cheney did relentlessly and for the most part without apparent consequence, the bell should ring loudly and the man should be forced to cede the rest of his time to his opponent. If this prudent measure had been taken before last night's discussion, John Edwards would have had ample time to lay out his education policy in detail, as well as to delve into a number of other domestic issues, and perhaps discuss his life story.

The American public does not have to tolerate this type of fear-mongering, distortion, and deceit. Indeed, it is their responsibility to fact-check the public statements of all the candidates. Anyone who is up to the task should look into a few of the most critical falsehoods Cheney mumbled into our television sets last night. A few of the most decisive of Cheney's falsifications concerned foreign policy.

These (paraphrased) claims, made by Cheney, are FALSE:

1. John Kerry's statement about a "global test" means that he won't act to secure the United States against imminent attacks unless he first has permission from other nations. (Read the statement and you will see that Kerry's "test" is nothing more than the test of reasonable judgment. His point is that our military actions, whether preemptive or retributive, should be undertaken to stem REAL threats and REAL enemies, not fabricated, hallucinated, or secretively convenient ones.)

2. Before U.S. aggression was ordered in Iraq, Zarqawi, a terrorist, was a threat to the United States and was in a part of Iraq controlled by Sadaam Hussein, and therefore attacking Iraq was justified because our attacking Baghdad will eventually allow us to kill Zarqawi. (Here is an honest assessment of Cheney's deceptive claims about Zarqawi: "Cheney said Zarqawi was in Baghdad before the war, and his proof was that he was running the supposed ricin-producing facilities at the Ansar al-Islam camp in northern Iraq. Not only was no ricin ever found there, northern Iraq wasn't under Saddam's central government." From Empire Notes.)

3. Cheney never said there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. (There are at least 20 occasions on which Mr. Cheney made this connection publicly, unambiguously, even forcefully. Here is ONE example: "if we're successful in Iraq, we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographical base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.")

So, please, if you do not already know these and other statements made by our vice president to be completely false, flex your keyword muscles and go on a little scavenger hunt for the truth. We cannot let our leadership insult our intelligence in this way. And we cannot let our journalists and talking heads tell us that the debate was a "draw."

Tip: is a good place to start, although it focuses largely on domestic issues, and one shouldn't presume that it provides the final word in all matters. With respect to last night's debate, it also puts to question a few misleading implications of certain statements Edwards made, but these contrast with the bald-face lies of the sort Cheney drones into the desk before him with his hands clenched tight. (Credit to the vice president for reminding me of this site, which demolishes many of the Bush-Cheney campaign fictions, chief of which is the "flip-flop" portrait of Kerry.)

Finally, we, the citizens of this country, cannot give credence to the impression that this debate was a close match or that the vice president participated in a fair manner. In a democracy, outright falsehoods do not win debates; nor do they inch a candidate toward a draw. They are big-time point losers. More: they are sinister and need to be condemned. Last night, John Edwards blew the deceitful and shameless pillar of voracious greed named Cheney into Lake Erie. And THAT, to cite Cheney's obsessively repeated expression, is the fact of the matter.

[For those who may not have been sure, my "polygraph bell" idea was not to be taken seriously; although, if such a thing were possible, I would like to see one hanging around the necks of Dick Cheney and George Bush. Or possibly it could be surgically implanted.]