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We have read and heard all about George Santos, the new Congressman from New York, who has lied about virtually everything, or maybe absolutely everything, in his claimed background. Yet despite about 80% of his constituents polled as wanting him to resign, he goes nowhere; and Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans will do absolutely nothing, other than taking him off some committees and putting him on others. They want his vote, and more than that, they are virtually all just fine with lying, if it gets them where they want to be.

Now we learn about another new Republican Congressman, Andrew (Andy) Ogles, from Tennessee. who brazenly lied about all sorts of aspects of his college record, and his career background. Ogles has called himself an economist, but his transcript shows that he took one economics course in his life, at a community college, and got a “C” in it. He apparently failed (maybe he didn’t show up to them, because it is very hard to get an “F” at any college) the nine political science courses he took.

He had claimed to have majored in International Relations (my mother legitimately majored in that, with a minor in Languages), but his transcript showed that he graduated with a major in “Liberal Studies,” which Middle Tennessee State University allows for someone who never picked a major. Actually, it appears that Ogles left the school, then got a degree ten years or so later, through a “Distance Learning” program

Ogles lied about his background, saying that he was an expert in sex trafficking cases, and various other things which were not true. In fact, there appears to be almost nothing which he did not invent or wildly embellish in his background and history.

This of course will not get him removed from the House, either. When first confronted with his lies, Ogles actually blamed liberals for making a big deal out of a little mistake. But then when all the lies were revealed, he has stopped saying that, for now.

We could go through all of his fabrications, which Ogles first tried to pass off as bad memory, but it’s not worth it. Nothing is going to happen to him that would benefit the country; and even if it somehow did, they would put another one in there. Ogles is described as “Far Right.” Of course, and undoubtedly with all the sanctimonious speeches about virtue and honesty and trust and all the things that the Far Right trumpets as proof of their patriotism.

Politicians have an ignoble history of lying, though not all. And obviously, some lies are more trivial than others. Ogles, like Santos first tried to do, has said that he did it for the sake of brevity, or that he just made an error. Santos said that everyone inflates their resume, which is not true; and Santos just invented his, he might as well have said that he was heroic at the battle of San Juan Hill, or with Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.

It does seem rather clear that Republicans have unmoored themselves from any sense of responsibility for telling the truth about anything. We’re hearing about (as if we did not already know) how Fox “News” lies all the time, it is built into their model. We would say that Donald Trump was the biggest fabricator, pathological liar, of all time, but he didn’t start this. At this point, the only possible motivation for a Republican political figure not to lie, is if he or she didn’t think it would get them anything.

Why do people lie? In general, outside of the absolutely psychologically warped ones, it is because they think it will get them something, or save them from something they don’t want. We can discuss the nature of lying; and I read at least one book on it, which meant well, but did not answer much. The book, and I forget the author, tried to make a case for the value of telling the truth. And one can certainly do that, but it is an abstract argument, if it comes from some version of a cost-benefit analysis. I think she emphasized that if you lie, you are showing that you do not respect or value the other person, and thus the relationship is perhaps ineradicably damaged.

The most time-honored arguments for telling the truth are either religious, or secular moral, or the concept that if you lie, then you are countenancing people lying to you, wherein all trust and reliability breaks down. But for the habitual liar, there is always the idea of what he can immediately gain from the lie; and also, that his sense of self-worth, his whole self-identity, is at risk if he doesn’t try to protect it by lying about what he is, or what he has or hasn’t done. They don’t usually realize it, of course, it is on an unconscious level.

How could one try to exhort someone to always tell the truth about significant things? Someone could talk about Hell, and try to scare them into it. One might read from some of the parables or childhood stories, which emphasize that if you lie, soon no one will believe anything you say. One could quote particularly good poetic verses. But there is something that goes on in the minds of these Far Right people, who make a career out of lecturing people about morality, and the terrible wages of sin, where their own lies are not only acceptable, but to them, necessary. Of course, they usually don’t call them lies, but let any liberal misstate anything, and they are calling for impeachment, hanging, the stocks and the whipping posts.

Apart from the mild humor in hearing about Ogles, there is a sense of futility, where we see people utterly making up resumes, backgrounds; claiming they didn’t say something, until it is shown on tape. I heard someone the other day say that the people who watch Fox have come to reject any story or fact they don’t like, by simply saying, “Fake News.” That becomes a self-constructed impenetrable shield which blocks out anything they don’t want to hear, or even consider. That would be analogous to absolute fundamentalist religion, or a cult.

The frustration comes not just from seeing these people get away with it, but in knowing that for most of us, we have tried to be honest about our educational or career achievements, and what we tell other people about ourselves. And we rely on others to be as honest, that would seem to be a legitimate human goal. But we as a species are falling far short of that, and there is nothing, outside of possibly religion, that can change that, and it certainly has not. And often, it is those who want to tell everyone how religious they are, who lie with not an ounce of guilt about it.

So is morality a lost cause? “Might makes Right”? Or “God is on the side of the one who has the most guns”? Is getting what you want, the answer to any moral dilemma? For Santos and Ogles it is, that is obvious. And there are many more of them. What did Al Franken write about lies and the lying liars who tell them? That seemed like a rather dramatic description, at the time, but it now seems that Franken was being nothing but completely honest about what they are.