I’ve written many times of my belief that the American experiment has drifted into a “post-truth period” of history. Today, easily verifiable facts are presented side-by-side with outrageous falsehoods, and few in the media blink an eye. When they do attempt to set the record straight, it’s often shrugged off by a distracted electorate as being ‘just more partisan bickering’ or political spin.
“There are two sides to every story,” your political nemesis will insist. Perhaps, but it depends on the story. What’s missing from their riveting political analysis, including claims that “both sides are the same,” or “everyone fudges a little bit” is this: there’s only one version of the truth. 2+2 still equals 4.
There are two hot button issues waiting for Congress when they return to Washington from recess. The “Iran Deal” and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP)’s defamatory smear campaign of Planned Parenthood (providing reproductive and sexual health care services to 2.7 million women and men at approximately 700 community health centers nationwide each year). CMP’s goal is to convince Congress to erase funding for Planned Parenthood clinics during the upcoming budget negotiations. Yes, TEA Partiers have already threatened to shut down the government over the issue.
Fusion GPS, co-founded by an investigative reporter for the Washington Post, just completed a thorough analysis of CMP’s claims and found (through blind studies and independent analysis) “[a] thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict.” In other words, CMP is only telling part of the story (and lying about the rest). The truth is — no tax dollars fund abortion services, and haven’t since the Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976.
None of that matters to the (selectively) morally indignant voter, because three percent of Planned Parenthood’s health care services include abortion. Many women also choose to donate fetal tissue to medical science at the same time. Federal law prohibits profits during the procedure, but does allow for cost reimbursement. That’s why this series of slanderous CMP videos, which “do not present a complete or accurate record,” are the real issue.
The truth is — if you want fewer abortions in America, consider this: Planned Parenthood services prevent over a half million unintended pregnancies each year.
The other big lie making the rounds in conservative circles is an allegation that the United Nation’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with the Islamic Republic of Iran, actually allows them to develop a nuclear weapon. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, in a new book “co-authored” by his daughter, Liz, reportedly claims “[n]early everything the president has told us about his Iranian agreement is false.” This from the genius who claimed “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” in Iraq, before miring the nation in a pointless and costly war.
To verify any claims made by President Obama, all Dick and Liz Cheney need do is read the facts for themselves; all 159 pages are readily available online. The Cheney’s book alleges “[t]his agreement will actually facilitate and legitimize an Iranian nuclear arsenal,” which is yet another bold-faced lie. In this “post-truth” political environment, saying JCPOA leads to the “first use of a nuclear weapon since Hiroshima and Nagasaki” is not only dead wrong — it’s also irresponsible and dangerous hyperbole. The truth is — these outrageous lies are designed to sell books and keep Cheney’s fanny on the set of Fox and Friends.
Secretary of State John Kerry writes “put simply, this deal has a permanent prohibition on Iran having a nuclear weapons program and a permanent inspections regime that goes beyond any previous inspections regime in Iran. Iran is obligated as a party to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) not to seek or acquire nuclear weapons, commitments expressly defined in the JCPOA. Any Iranian attempt to design, pursue, build or otherwise seek a nuclear weapon would be an explicit and detectable violation of the NPT. In the event of Iranian non-compliance, the JCPOA will enable the United States to mobilize the international community to take swift action, including snapping sanctions back into place.”
Ask yourself, who is more likely to be lying? Secretary Kerry (under the watchful eye of the P5+1 [also referred to as the E3/EU+3], the Islamic Republic of Iran, and all fifteen permanent members of the U.N. Security Council) — or Dick Cheney? Please, stop laughing — because too many conservatives are buying these lies. I challenge any conservative to offer one shred of concrete proof that the former vice president’s prevarications are “true.” They can’t. You don’t trust Iran? Well neither does anyone else — including President Obama. The truth is — we need this deal.
Factor into all of this confusion a letter sent out last week, signed by 190 retired military officers, to House and Senate leadership. Senators McConnell and Reid, along with Representatives Boehner and Pelosi, now have to “consider” even more fraudulent claims as they negotiate the politics of a Congressional response, which Republicans promise will be a Congressional motion of disapproval.
Hey, I wonder if Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council (one of the names at the bottom of that letter) still thinks United States military action against extremist groups like ISIL is ‘a Christian fight against Satan?’ Maybe Jerry wants to check with the two good ‘ol boys who were running Iran/Contra operations during the Reagan administration. They signed off on this fabrication as well. Say — do you suppose the reason these conservatives worry Iran will simply ignore this international agreement — is because they did it first?
The crux of the letter suggests that “[in] our judgment as former senior military officers, the agreement will not have that effect” (of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons). Opinions are like noses, gentlemen. We all have ‘em — and most of ‘em smell. Your judgement is trumped by current military leadership (who have a much clearer picture of the current threat assessments), the world’s top nuclear weapons experts, and the international community. Paraphrasing the president: ‘please proceed, generals.’
“The agreement as constructed does not “cut off every pathway” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal.” It’s tiresome having to repeat the details of the plan over, and over, and over again — but let’s just look at one aspect of the JCPOA. At the Arak heavy-water reactor, which the generals mention in the same paragraph, the Iranians can produce enough plutonium to arm at least one nuclear weapon a year.
Under terms of the JCPOA agreement, the Arak nuclear reactor will be “transformed to produce far less plutonium than before, and of a much lower quality.” Any excess radioactive material, under terms of the deal, will be shipped out of the country under the watchful eye of international inspectors. Plans for building a second heavy-water nuclear reactor inside Iran are also halted. Are you getting the picture here?
The generals continued, “[t]he agreement is unverifiable. Under the terms of the JCPOA and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be responsible for inspections under such severe limitations as to prevent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating.” We’ve been over this, gentlemen, the “secret side deal” is Iran agreeing to abide by the strictures of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The truth is — that’s not much of a “secret.” Trust me, we get it — “trust, but verify.”
Secretary Kerry wrote “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) advances critical U.S. interests related to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, strengthening global nuclear safety and security, and promoting the peaceful applications of nuclear energy. Founded in 1957, the IAEA is the global focal point for supporting the safe, secure, and peaceful development and use of nuclear science and technology.”
We could do this all day — and for many on the conservative side of this “debate,” they actually will. The key to this mendacious strategy lies in its sheer audacity and repetition. Did I just invoke Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies? Probably so — because the “big lie” (or große lüge) is a tried and true (or at least highly effective) propaganda technique. Only someone truly evil, as Adolph Hitler wrote, “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” The truth is — I believe Dick Cheney is evil.