“This time, I’m not lying. Srsly.”

Today we were treated to the revolting spectacle of the serial liars of the NSA mouthing rote justifications of their illegal behavior, naturally accompanied by equally rote denunciations of their critics, before a faux-credulous US Senate.  It reminded me of nothing more than a Far Side cartoon from the 80’s, wherein a rabbit wears a sandwich board reading: Raisins, Five Cents.

Of course, the joke was dependent upon the universal knowledge that what bunnies make might resemble raisins, but are nonetheless worth considerably less than a nickel each.  Buyer beware, and all that. It’s probably for the best that Gary Larson retired when he did; I wonder if today anybody would laugh.

Dowdy ol’ cocktailhag Dianne Feinstein, whose husband is currently making bank on the fire sale of US Post Offices in her home state, couldn’t be bothered to come up with a slightly better argument for the burgeoning surveillance state than growling something about how the word “surveillance” means something other than what everyone not on the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks it means.  Shorter DiFi:  Eat your raisins; they’ll keep you regular, just like the bunny.

Of course, such lame and half-hearted attempts to sell something no sane person would willingly buy certainly come as no surprise; unless you’re an independently wealthy Senator, or perhaps a bank CEO, it’s pretty likely that every pitch made to you in the last few decades turned out to be a con, albeit not as crude as the bunny’s.  Expectations of receiving anything resembling actual value for what one buys, much less what one pays for through taxes, are considered as quaint as they are naive.

This development, though unsettling, is hardly inintentional.  Giving falsity as prominent a place at the table as truth, benefits a lot of well-connected people who profit from the losses of others.  Just as no one can reasonably expect that, say, gold coins and/or reverse mortgages will protect one from penury in old age, few sentient humans seriously believe that the NSA’s not-surveillance prevented 54, count ’em, 54 terrorist attacks, but some really gullible people do, and the rest of us just have to accept it.

After all, once we’ve been taught, after a fashion, that taking a blue pill leads to the equally improbable outcomes of post-50 daily monkey sex and double bathtubs, why wouldn’t we also believe that the government has our best interests at heart when it spends a billion bucks to warehouse all of our personal data?  Or metadata, which totally different, thus spake the frumpy plutocrat from California?

When the cartoonish Joe McCarthy lookalike Ted Cruz can command non-mocking attention for reading Dr. Seuss on the floor of the US Senate, a bailed out fraudster from AIG can compare criticism of his fleecing ways to a lynch mob, and NSA officials who have already lied to Congress several times are brought back to lie some more, is it any wonder liars have become so lazy?   At least the guy on SNL put a little thought into it before saying, “That’s the ticket.”

Photo by Medill DC under Creative Commons license