Just Above Sunset
October 10, 2004 - Honesty as the Best Policy? And why did God create conservatives?

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As I finished my first week of work I find myself too exhausted to do much commentary.  So I will take a week off it seems, but then I miss two days next week for a business trip to Oakland, California, as mentioned on the home page.  Rats! 

But the previous entry here The Draw: The Debate of the Proxies, drew some reactions.

Joseph, formerly in film out here and now our expatriate friend in Paris (and a master sailor who now and then delivers new luxury sailing yachts to their new owners for fun and profit) reacts to Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, who commented that he’d feel better about the current folks in power if they’d just been honest and had said, well, we blew it – “I know it's too late for them to change to this approach without showing themselves to be major flip-floppers. Still, this would be the honest approach, one that I think might have cost them a few votes but made it up in confidence in them among not only citizens of this country but also the world. Then again, I get the feeling these people are just not into truth and honesty as much as I am.

Joseph begs to differ, as it’s too late for that -


I agree that a little honesty would go a long way with these guys. If George and Dick would admit only as much as you suggest, it would certainly improve their standing with me, and perhaps convince me that the are not living in an idiosyncratic dream world of their own creation, or alternately that they don't think we're all complete morons. But it is far too late.

Politicians never seem to learn this lesson. If Nixon had come clean early, would he still have been forced to resign? Of course not. What did him in was telling a lot of demonstrable lies in order to cover the initial lie. Clinton? Ditto.

Yet despite the knowledge that they are living in a fishbowl, somehow they manage to think they can get away with it. "Good attitude", or "the triumph of hope over experience?"

The ultimate value of these debate successes will not be to debunk the administrations self-spun mythology, but in convincing the faint-of-heart that this race is not over. As the discrepancy between polls of "registered voters" and "likely voters" suggests, if we can all be bothered to turn out, it is GWB's new middle name that is "toast".

PS - The topic at last night's Philo cafe was "Is rhetoric more powerful than reason?" Or, as Socrates asked, "Is the truth proof enough?" I can't imagine what was on everyone's mind.


Oh yes – his references.  Once a month, on a Thursday evening I think, you can wander into a regular open discussion at the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, up on the second floor, for an international discussion of the philosophical topic of the day.  It’s very French.  (Information on that famous place is here - 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris - with a menu, if you’re hungry – the Salade de magrets de canard, haricots verts frais is about twelve euros).  Joseph tells me when I’m next in Paris he will drag me there for the talk.  That Philo Café is in English.  There are others, in French, over in the Marais.  I need to get back in gear for those.

The second reference?  Somewhere in Boswell’s Life of Johnson Boswell mentions to Samuel Johnson that someone they know has recently remarried.  And Boswell reports that Johnson then said, “For a man to marry a second time represents the triumph of hope over experience.”  I have been married twice.  Johnson was right.

Joseph from Paris also mentions that open letter from the professors at the top business schools in the country Wednesday saying this administration is well on its way to destroying the economy, and ought to stop with the deficits and tax cuts for the wealthy and all that.


That's an impressive list of signatures. A ton from Harvard, Duke, MIT, Darden. And not one from Berkley!

The striking thing is that as a group, B-school types (both students and faculty) have not surprisingly trended overwhelmingly Republican. This lot voted for Reagan in droves. Still being what they are, they are more inclined than the general population to acknowledge that facts, as they say, "is facts".


Ah yes, reality does matter, as the surrealists or those Dada folks no longer hang around at the Café de Flore, or at business schools.

But when Joseph says that if George and Dick would admit they were wrong, it would certainly improve their standing with him, and perhaps convince him that they are not living in an idiosyncratic dream world of their own creation, Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, has some issues -


Admitting reality would certainly improve their standing with me, too, although probably not enough to get me to vote for them. As far as I'm concerned, their problem is way bigger than just Iraq.

But I have this theory:

Your reference to "the triumph of hope over experience" (or what I sometimes see as "the triumph of will over truth") got me to wondering why God created conservatives, and I've concluded that He did it to sow confusion and keep mankind off-balance.

Without conservatives, God might argue, reason would reign, which means humans might figure out how things actually work, and would then find a way to right things that are wrong, in which case they'd start asking themselves, "Hey, who needs God? We're doing just fine down here, thank you!"

In short, having outsourced His job to the inhabitants of a foreign planet, He'd be out of work! So to keep that from happening, He plants a herd of conservatives on Earth, allowing their nonsensical zaniness and refusal to believe what they read in newspapers to serve as a counterbalance to the liberals' persistent and disturbing preoccupation with reality.

This also, I think, should explain why He allows conservatives to get away with claiming God as their own personal property, when logic might otherwise dictate that any Supreme Being worthy of the title would be siding with those folks who treat the concept of truth with more respect.

So His plan, I think, is to keep us all stirred up and annoyed, even as He keeps us amused with the meaningless antics of the likes of Ann Coulter.

PS: Sorry for the delayed response, but it took me some time to go back over this and capitalize all those instances of "He" when referring to God. It's something I'm just not used to doing, but even as I criticize His judgment in foisting all these conservative blockheads on us, I still would rather not piss Him off.


Well, yes, pissing Him off would be dangerous.

But this an interesting theory.  God plants a herd of conservatives on Earth, “allowing their nonsensical zaniness and refusal to believe what they read in newspapers to serve as a counterbalance to the liberals' persistent and disturbing preoccupation with reality.”

God does have a sense of humor?  So it seems.

And as they say, reality is overrated.  As is Ann Coulter.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....