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C.O.D.
Politicians have always had something of a reputation for dishonesty. That was before, though. The lying politicians of old were known for a more circuitous sort of dissembling. They did not traffic in blatant, easily disprovable lies. Instead, they used a subtler style which conceals untruths in a cloud of tangled wordage that sounds plausible but means nothing. “Bafflegab,” my father used to call it.

We still have that kind of politician, of course. In fact, a good armor of meaningless bullshit is vital to anyone who runs for public office. It can be false or true. That’s the beauty of bafflegab. It’s main function is to obscure, and its only real deception is that it actually means something.

Now, however, such distinctions don’t seem to matter. We have entered a whole new age of political lying. As 65% of us know, this new age was ushered in by our newest president, who utters clearly demonstrable falsehoods every time — every time — he opens his mouth. For the remaining 35%, this doesn’t matter as long as he hates the same people they hate. The GOP, which believes its hold on power relies on the continued fealty of this minority, has mostly followed the President’s lead — and taken up the bald-faced lie as a weapon against his enemies.

It is a sin, I am told, to tell a lie. God doesn’t like it, it’s morally repugnant, it’s completely unprincipled. That’s why it’s so curious that the Republican Party, a group that has historically bragged about its high principles of personal conduct, its emphasis on morality, and its rock solid belief in God, would so effortlessly transition to unapologetic lying as a political style.

The purest of the Republican pure, the most righteous defenders of righteousness, belong to the Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus, if you don’t know, is a fraternity of Congressmen (okay, Debbie Lesko of Arizona is also a member) in the House who espouse libertarian or very conservative beliefs. Interestingly, this group has been among the most ardent defenders of the President — and the most consistent liars in D.C. Indeed, they are so pure that they attack members of their own party, especially those who have been caught telling the truth.

Ohio 4th District hero Jim Jordan is a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus and one of the its leading sources of misinformation. (The 4th District, incidentally, is a bit of a lie itself — gerrymandered as it is to resemble a C-clamp that carefully avoids touching nearby Columbus.) Jimmy (as he is called by his towel-snapping bros in the FC) is the most angry and unrelenting in his pursuit of proof that doesn’t seem to exist. Benghazi malfeasance, the deep state, and fake news have all come under his pitiless examination.

I mention Jimmy here because he has come under scrutiny for some possible untruths he has told about his past tenure as an Ohio State wrestling coach. Several of the athletes under his care have charged that Jimmy knew of rampant sexual misconduct by school officials and did nothing to protect them from it. What kind of misconduct? Well, the kind ol’ Denny Hastert (disgraced Speaker of the House and himself a retired wrestling coach) was guilty of — and apparently some even creepier stuff. How bad was the wrestling culture at OSU? A recent headline quoted one witness to those events who called it a “Cesspool of Deviancy.”

A Cesspool of Deviancy. That is some deathless headline copy right there. Apparently, Jimmy lived in his own little houseboat, docked there on the edge of the cesspool, and (he now says) never smelled a thing. That’s in spite his super-acute nose for other things stinky and indecent.

In fact, he claims to smell the deep state and fake news at the center of this fuss about his behavior at Ohio State. As usual, there’s not much evidence for any of his propositions, only the deeply held suspicions of Jordan, the Freedom Caucus, and the President that something must be going on.

A Cesspool of Deviancy. I admit that headline was my main reason for writing this rambling essay about lying in our current politics. A Cesspool of Deviancy. That image could stand in for the whole Trumpocracy we are now witnessing, from the corruption and self-dealing to the selling out of our national security to the cruel mass abduction of brown-skinned children — all founded on the non-stop, bald-faced, so-sue-me lying that now permeates Republican Washington.

Perhaps the deviancy we’re seeing is only away from the norm of old-fashioned obfuscation and toward the new style of intentional falsehood. That seems like a big change to me, though. Bafflegab was something I could dismiss and ignore. What do I do with an outright lie that insists it is true?
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon