A Lie by Any Other Name

Sometimes there are just no words to describe lies told by politicians. They lie so often and in so many different ways that it's exhausting to always have to explain to the ignorant why their statements are false or misleading. So, I thought it was about time there was terminology that could be used to describe these false statements. Sociologists, psychologists, and linguists who conduct research on lies study their cause, nature, occasion, victim, subject, size, result, and many other dimensions. I thought it might be simpler to classify political lies only according to their nature and their seriousness. This classification may not be all-inclusive, but it covers the most common political lies. The nature of a political lie can be classified as one of six different types, each of which I have named in honor of a famous practitioner:
• • • • • •

LIDDY -- Lies resulting from self-deception, mental confusion, cluelessness, or just plain stupidity. O'REILLY -- Lies using fabricated facts or stories, fakery, or false empathy, often with the intention of lending credibility or establishing commonalities. HANNITY -- Lies that use straw-man arguments, false comparisons, false generalizations, and other logical fallacies. LIMBAUGH -- Lies involving omissions of facts, out-of-context quotes, misrepresented positions, and other misleading statements. COULTER -- Lies involving ad hominem arguments, name calling, and other personal attacks. GALLUP -- Lies that use statistics or that are about a statistical analysis such as a poll.

Lies also have one of five magnitudes:
• • •

LIMP -- Lies that are trivial, harmless, inconsequential, petty, not worth the time responding to, or just plain stupid. BLOATED/SHRUNKEN -- Lies that are substantial (i.e., not limp) and are based on exaggerations (bloated) or minimizations (shrunken) of the truth. CRYPTIC -- Lies that are consequential (i.e., more than just bloated or shrunken) and are difficult to verify. If you can't verify that something is a lie by searching the internet, reading a newspaper, opening a book, or watching TV, than it can be considered to be cryptic. Some lies are cryptic because the subject matter is challenging such as scientific or economic analyses. Some lies are cryptic because the information needed to dispute them is dispersed and difficult to gather. NAKED -- Lies that are consequential and are easy to verify. A lie can start off being cryptic but become naked as information is released to the public. Reports that Iraq had WMD began as cryptic but slowly became naked as continued inspections found no weapons. UBER -- Lies that are so obviously and outrageously false that they are laughable and should need no refutation.

Putting these two classifications together creates thirty categories of lies. Each category is named by stringing the lie-type and lie-magnitude together into one word. Here are a few examples:
Ashcroft: The objective of Delay: We've securing the safety eliminated all the of Americans from fat in government crime and terror has been achieved.

Nixon: I am not a crook

Bush: Mission Accomplished

Bush Administrations: Reasons for the Iraq War


Bush Administration: White House was DoD stories about O'Reilly: I got my Bush's Crawford trashed by the Jessica Lynch and data from the Paris Intelligent Design ranch Clinton Pat Tillman Business Review Administration when they moved out I don't think Limbaugh: Abu anyone could have Ghraib was like a anticipated the Bush: Great job, Bush: I'm a uniter Fox News: Fair fraternity prank, the 9/11 attacks (Rice) Brownie not a divider and Balanced guards were just or the failure of the blowing off steam NOLA levees (Bush) Limbaugh: Bush Bush: I served my Democrats think Al Gore claims to Administration pays term of enlistment Bush: You forgot that America have invented the media to sell honorably in the TX Poland deserves to be internet education and ANG attacked by health programs terrorists Malkin: Cindy Coulter: New Coulter: Justice Sheehan is an anti- Yorkers would Photos of John O'Connor was Swift Boat Ads American, terroristimmediately Kerry windsurfing Reagan's biggest sympathizing surrender to mistake agitator attacking terrorists Bush: we've Bush's margin of Bush Administration assembled the victory in the 2004 State Department's Republicans are statistics on the largest election gave him count of the more fiscally economy and the international political capital and number of terrorist responsible than budget, such as coalition in history a mandate for attacks Democrats Social Security to fight in Iraq and conservatism Afghanistan LIMP BLOATED or CRYPTIC NAKED UBER SHRUNKEN

So, for example, when the State Department defined terrorist attacks in a way that would minimize their number in their annual report, they told a shrunkengallup. The swift boat ads about John Kerry were crypticcoulters because they were personal attacks that could not be verified easily. Intelligent design (i.e., creationism) is an uberoreilly to those who believe that the creation story is a myth or a metaphor.

Lies can evolve in this system. The first time I heard President Bush's statement about nobody being able to anticipate that the NOLA levees would have failed, I thought it was a crypticliddy because it would be hard to show that Bush didn't actually believe what he said. Within a few days, though, two facts emerged. First, FEMA had conducted an exercise called Hurricane Pam that simulated a NOLA disaster, so obviously somebody thought about it. Second, Bush knew he had cut funding for levee repair, so this was no self-deception. Clearly, it was a hannity not a liddy, because the lie was based on a false generalization. When those reports hit the media, Bush's statement became a nakedhannity. These new terms can be used to express nuances in the interpretation of lies and differences of opinion between interpreters. Remember when the Bush campaign used the photo of John Kerry windsurfing to cast him as an elitist? I thought that was a limpcoulter. Who cares whether he plays tennis, softball, or golf. The fact that he plays sports at all said to me that he was fit and healthy enough to withstand the rigors of the presidency. Boy was I wrong. Calling it a crypticcoulter or even a crypticlimbaugh would have been more accurate. So, you think you have the concept? Test your self with the following lies. What would you call them? (Answers Below) 1. 2. 3. Cheney: Reagan proved deficits don't matter. Delay: There's no fat in government spending. We've eliminated it all. Santorum: If you have the right to consensual sex, then you have the right to bigamy, incest, and adultery. 4. Limbaugh: `Osama' Obama, `Frenchie' Kerry, Hurricane Katrina `vanden Heuvel.' 5. Rove's push poll about John McCain having fathered an illegitimate black child. 6. The credentials of Jeff Gannon and Michael Brown. Of course, your answers may be different than mine. That's the beauty of the system. The names express how we view the lie. So, give the new vocabulary a try. If nothing else, you'll find it satisfying to slap your forehead and say `now that's an uberoreilly if I've ever heard one.' Answers: 1. Crypticliddy. 2. Uberoreilly. 3. Nakedhannity. 4. Limpcoulters. 5. Bloatedgallup. 6. Bloatedlimbaughs.

by TerraByte
Sep 24, 2005