SpinTech: October 12, 1999

How Can You Tell When a Politician Is Lying?
Part I
by Leon Felkins

Most of you will not need any convincing that they do lie and will wonder why it is worthy of further discussion. While that may be true for some of you, there must be others that are taken in by their deceptions for how else can we account for the almost total obsession of many citizens and nearly all of the press with every utterance of a politician or government official? Why is there still an obsession by much of the public with our two major parties when almost every one of their pronouncements are boloney?

Apparently many citizens still believe that persons in the government and/or politics sometime lie but can still be believed most of the time. That belief has absolutely no foundation which is what I hope to show in this article. Others will say, "So what -- we know they don't always tell the truth, but it doesn't seriously impact our lives." I hope to show here that their duplicity does have serious consequences for all of us now and will even more so in the future.

In this essay I will provide a summary of some of the major ways politicians and government bureaucrats deceive us. Since the scope of the types of deceit is very broad, I can only hit the high spots. But in every case, I will provide references to further material, online if I know about it.

There are many ways in which the government interacts with our personal lives. I will attempt to list some of the more important interactions and to show that there is a consistent pattern of duplicity in every one of them.

Let us start with the most serious issue of all, the concept that the politicians are our representatives.


We often hear the media and the politicians spouting off that our form of government is a democracy. Of course, that is bogus -- it is not, never has been, and was specifically designed by the founding fathers not to be. Democracy is a fancy name for mob-rule, which the Founding Fathers knew to be unstable and vicious. They tried to make sure we got a republican form of government instead. Unfortunately, as brilliant as they were, their thinking was a bit muddled when in came to making sure that the Republic would in fact be a representative republic. Space does not permit going into great detail on this issue, but to prove my point I will just point out that the members of the "upper house", the Senators, were not to be elected by the public at all but were to be selected by the state leaders. Amazingly, they naively believed that somehow, a responsible, intelligent, group of statesmen could be installed this way.

Didn't happen. And in 1913, we gave up on the idea that an "elite" core of individuals could somehow be selected by a group of "non-elite" state legislatures (elected by popular vote!), and so changed the Constitution (17th Amendment) to require that Senators also be elected by popular vote of the citizenry.

So, then, we have a "representative republic", right? Hmm. . . I just don't see a whole lot of representin' goin' on. If you do, why don't you try to arrange to personally talk to your representative and then show me how. Good luck. The reality is that they are motivated by lobbyists and other special interests that are generous with the pocket book and not you and me, who are not so generous. Some organizations have done the research to verify what actually is going on with our representatives. An excellent source is the opensecrets.org site, where you will find that there are now over 20,000 registered lobbyists and that they spent over 1.4 billion dollars last year (1998)!

Apparently, that is how representation really works.

When you add to that situation the impact of the press, the impact of campaign contributions -- particularly the enormous spending in the elections -- it should be evident that you, the citizen, have no practical input in determining how this country is run. You have been deceived if you think so.

Let us now turn to the legislative process itself where we will find -- you guessed it -- further deception.

The Legislative Process

There is much deceit going on in the legislative process -- far more than we can go into here. A few examples will suffice.

Many bills are modified at the last minute and not read by the legislators in their final form. Not having the time to always read the bills, legislators -- like the rest of us -- may rely on the bill title and summary information. For this reason, and to deceive the press, bills are often given names that don't quite match the content.

    Bills with names that don't match the content and the problem of "Stealth Legislation"

      Here are a few examples of these deceitfully named bills:

    • S. 254 sponsored by Senator Hatch, now in process

      This bill has many names, most sounding something like, "Children's Protection Act of 1999" or "Safe Handgun Storage and Child Handgun Safety Act of 1999". So, how does Senator Hatch go about pulling off these laudable goals as suggested by the titles?

      Well, let us take a look at the actual bill (no small task, I can assure you -- the bill is about 800 thousand characters long!).

      What does it actually claim to do for juvenile crime?

      Here is what I found in a quick review:

      "Authorizes juveniles age 14 years or older to be tried as adults, with an exception involving Indian country (Native Americans juveniles must be 15 years or older to be tried as adults!), at the discretion of the U.S. Attorney, in Federal district court for violations of Federal law"

      Generally tightens the screws on individuals less than 18, such as prohibiting certain lenient actions that might be taken by judges, setting sentencing requirements, etc. Congress further takes on the role of the judge.

      "Authorizes the Attorney General to designate 'high intensity interstate gang activity areas.' Authorizes appropriations."

      Now we are getting to the heart of this bill: spending money! This section authorizes $100 million per year in grants to be dumped into designated areas.

      What does it do to everyone?

      "Amends the code to authorize the use of a clone pager (a numeric display device that receives communications intended for another numeric display paging device). . ." by the authorities.

      "Directs the Administrator to make CRISIS (confidential reporting of individuals suspected of imminent school violence) grants to support the independent State development and operation of confidential, toll-free telephone hotlines for the reporting of specific threats and suspicious or criminal conduct by juveniles to appropriate State and local law enforcement entities for investigation, and for related purposes. "

      ". . . establish a National Parenting Support and Education Commission to identify the best practices for parenting and to provide practical parenting advice for parents and care givers based on the best available research data". Yeah, we really need the government telling us how to raise our children!

      Amends the Brady Act on Gun control

      "Requires each Internet service provider, at the time of entering an agreement with a residential customer for the provision of Internet access services, to provide to such customer (either at no fee or at a fee not to exceed the amount equal to the cost of the provider in providing the software or system to the subscriber, including the cost of the software or system and of any license required with respect to the software or system) computer software or other filtering or blocking system that allows the customer to prevent the access of minors to material on the Internet."

      It mostly spends and spends!

      Establishes many new agencies and positions

      Authorizes grants of $100 million per year for designated interstate gang activity.

      Sets up "Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention" with authority and funds to "make grants to Indian tribes and national, statewide, or community-based, nonprofit organizations in crime prone areas".

      Who says crime doesn't pay! Many other similar programs with the strong smell of pork are established in this bill.

    • The "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill" of 1998

      Congress got a lot of press in 1998 with regard to this bill because it was supposedly created to give relief to the flood victims on the upper Mississippi river. I decided to take a look to see what was really in the bill. Here are some things I found (which I reported on in as essay called Emergency Pork):

      -The Bill does not directly provide funds to the Red River Flood victims!
      -Yep, the relief was already funded.
      -$3,000,000 for potential terrorism threats in Senator Hatch's Utah.
      -Help for marine mammals trapped in fishing gear.
      -Addresses the problem of, "permits for the importation of polar bear parts (other than internal organs)"
      -$16,000,000 for an automatic targeting system in law enforcement.
      -Establishes the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education.
      -Prohibits the use of funds in the bill to be used for the study of the medicinal use of marijuana.
      -Etc., etc.

    • The Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 1999

      According to numerous press reports, this monstrosity -- the largest budget ever -- was delivered to Congress where it was approved without ever being read. Examination of this document reveals that every major program that the Republicans promised to eliminate or reduce (in order to get elected) has actually increased in size! See the Cato report. More on this outrage and betrayal by the Republican party is at Conservative USA.

    Loading on the Pork

    I need not go into this in great detail as this is a well publicized aspect of political chicanery. The main problem is not so much the pork, but they way it is handled. Typically, politicians tag their pork projects on to other essential bills, where passage is assured. Very dishonest.

    The Citizens Against Government Wasted group (CAGW) has an excellent web site in which they document this aspect of political duplicity in considerable detail. The site is at http://www.govt-waste.org/. Be sure to check out the latest Congressional Pig Book. You will never enjoy a pork chop again!

    Since the politicians are so fond of creating laws, surely they would want to set a good example by obeying them, right? Well no -- laws are for the citizens.

Avoiding laws

The military is expressly prohibited from involvement in civilian law enforcement in the US by both the Constitution and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1978 (modified in 1981 to allow some "Drug War" support). Strangely, in spite of this, it is well known that they are in fact heavily involved in civilian activities. So, what gives? Simple, they have found loopholes. The government is better at finding loopholes in laws -- including the Constitution -- and avoiding the intent of the law, than the highest paid tax lawyer you can find!

We hear stories that our military is interdicting planes and ships at sea (possibly even blowing them away) that may be drug runners. How is the law prohibiting this avoided? I quote from Sam Smith: "the Navy is prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in domestic law enforcement, so the Coast Guard gets around this by hoisting a Coast Guard flag on any naval vessel it wants to use. The ship thereupon becomes a Coast Guard vessel -- for the sole purpose of circumventing the law." (I understand that the Navy ships also have at least one Coast Guard officer aboard to actually make any arrests).

Possibly the most incredible piece of government subterfuge is the "legal fiction" they work under to confiscate private property. In the 1970s and 80s, Congress passed a series of laws allowing the easy confiscation of private property based on the concept that an inanimate object could commit a crime and therefore be arrested. By doing this, they were able to get around the Constitutional prohibition of taking property and the guarantee of due process. (Further reading on government confiscation can be found at my Forfeiture reform resource page.)

A related subterfuge is the way the government gets around the prohibition of "double jeopardy". The Founding Fathers surely had no idea how their simple, but maybe too general, words would someday be twisted into this tortuous logic. Did you realize that if you are tried for some heinous crime by a state and win your case, you may then have to go through yet another trial for the same alleged offense but it will not legally be "double jeopardy"? Yep, if the federal government wishes to try you they may and they do all the time. It is not double jeopardy if it is tried by two different jurisdictions. A notorious example is Timothy McVeigh who may be tried by both the federal and the state government (Oklahoma). Too bad he only has one life to give.

It gets worse. You can also be tried for the same alleged crime in criminal court and in civil court -- as OJ Simpson will quickly tell you. Now that makes four possible trials for one infraction! Not bad for a Constitutional republic that specifically outlaws double jeopardy.

Leon Felkins is a retired Engineer, Army officer and former teacher of Computer Systems. He now maintains a web page on Political Philosophy, "A Rational Life", and a "Political Almanac."

Copyright 1999 Leon Felkins. All rights reserved.