There's excitement in the science world. They've rediscovered a lizard with a long nose, informally dubbed Pinocchio, which scientists thought was extinct. Columnists, comedians and satirists are excited, too. Pinocchio the loquacious puppet, the patron saint of liars everywhere, gets new life on the symbol circuit.
The lizard, officially Anolis proboscis for his long, horn-like protrusion at the end of the nose, was found in an Ecuadorian forest after dropping from sight for over 40 years. "Finding the Anolis proboscis was like discovering a secret," says Alejandro Arteaga, a photographer who was one of the lizard's spotters. "We conceived it for years to be a mythological creature."
The political liar has never been regarded as a mythological creature, but lying has recently grown to mythic proportions. The most prominent offender, of course, is a certain president who puts deception to work to achieve his goals, most prominently about his health care scheme.
Jon Stewart, the liberal comedian who usually defends whatever President Obama says and does, rolls out a series of video clips showing the president in numberless versions, one after the other, of repeating his statement that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. "So, yes," the comic concedes, "the president was somewhat dishonest about the promise of his health care program." Only somewhat?
Ordinarily, quoting a comedian to make a political point is a fool's errand, but useful this time because television comedy shows are where the young and foolish get their "news." Lying can be stretched out on a yardstick, quantified and compared for laughs. According to some surveys, almost a third of Americans under the age of 40, many of whom must sign up for Obamacare to subsidize the older generations, say they get their news from pop TV like the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and Internet sites of suspect reputation.
Frank Gaffney, chairman of the Center for Security Policy, extends his analysis of the president's meretricious statements about what's actually in the Iranian agreement to halt the race to the Islamic bomb. "How do we tell the president is lying?" he asks. "His lips are moving."
A lie, goes the folk wisdom, can travel around the world before the truth gets its boots on. The congressional Democrats, whose leader told them they could find out what was in Obamacare after they passed the legislation, were still trying to tie their shoelaces when they voted for it. The Iranians cheer the lifting of sanctions and say out loud that, under the agreement, they can continue to enrich uranium, and the president says no they can't, that's not in the agreement. Who do we believe?
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