By R. D. Flavin
Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said.
Samuel L. Clemens, as "Mark Twain;" American writer and humorist, 1835-1910.
Lies lie comfortably alongside our consensual truths. Misrepresentation and avoidance of fact are commonplace, perhaps inevitable and necessary, sometimes affecting, and occasionally down right evil, but often barely trivial enough to be noted. Which is a good thing. Everyday brings more loads of shit into this world and that’s how it goes. Tall tales in the tavern, whimsical wishing in front of the kids, or those rare erotic errors of omission, are banal, pagan, and someone else’s fatalities, to those waging bull with weapons of mass destruction. The G-8 summit in Genoa this week will bring together some of the most powerful bullshitters in the world. That’s much more shit in one place and at one time than we need, and of a type which is especially foul, however it appears we’re stuck with it. Besides, through their schemes to control the planet, an idea which might benefit some outside their focus could emerge. Could...
America’s ongoing fear of nuclear attack now shares the bathroom with a righteous abhorrence of terrorist bombers, a nervously correct knee-jerk reaction to potential chemical and biological saboteurs, and a growing embarrassment at the thought of being sued in an international court. We’ve a lot to worry about.
We lie to family, friends, coworkers, strangers, and especially ourselves. Some liars are elected, many weasel their way to power, and there have always been those who will murder to be in charge. Some fictions are entertaining, we reward those who've lies which amuse us, but we must always be wary and suspicious (read: deathly afraid) of those who own toys that can kill.
America has never had a Cretan president ("cretin" and Nixon is another column), but all have been liars. And, yes, some were patently, professionally, and patriotically better liars than others. Clinton remains a fav, while our current President Bush could use extensive lessons in lying, as well as in other areas. He wages bull with world leaders and always looks like he’s going to shit himself rather than someone else. This doesn’t inspire confidence. An American president should shit well and often. That’s why we elect them. Well, damn; Gore is ten times the liar Bush is and would be our president if Bush’s Republican cronies weren’t better liars than Gore’s Democratic cronies.
The difference between a truth and an untruth changes as predictably as our approximations of what’s real and what’s not. We’re supposed to struggle with the differences between good and bad. It’s a growth and learning thing. Though observed and understood locally, lying is inherent and endemic at this stage of our sentient development, and will probably remain so for some stages to come. Some are able to live their entire lives without uttering a falsehood and deserve the praise they receive. The rest of us lie, each to their own degree of personal choice, with many choosing to lie with every happenstance of opportunity. Of those liars, some are bullshitters, some are evil, some are ill, and some are elected to office. Just about all of us lie. [Note: I once attempted to neurolinguistically program myself according to the above “Mark Twain” quote, but had to abandon the experiment quickly as telling the truth all the time statistically will lead to quibbles, sarcasm, and really poor behavior with neighbors involved. Some fictions seem to fulfill a minimum daily requirement in reality management.]
This week's G-8 summit in Genoa is our latest chance to bullshit the world and remake the global economy according to Alan Greenspan. The first “Economic Summit,” held at the Chateau de Rambouillet in France, November 15-17, 1975, was attended by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Japan. President Gerald R. Ford represented the interests of the United States, and though I’m currently unable to document any episodes of Ford falling down, I must assume he didn’t contribute much to the summit. Ford may have pardoned Nixon, but he wasn’t that good of a liar. Now, Dick Cheney was there, and he may have done his job and lied to promote American interests. Our current President Bush couldn’t lie his way out of a speeding ticket, but perhaps VP Cheney will send in some bullshit from the sidelines.
The summit attendees now number eight, with the inclusion of Canada, Italy, and Russia, and are represented by Silvio Berlusconi (Prime Minister of Italy), Tony Blair (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), George Bush (President of the United States), Jacques Chirac (President of France), Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister of Canada), Junichiro Koizumi (Prime Minister of Japan), Vladimir V. Putin (Prime Minister of Russia), and Gerhard Schröder (Chancellor of Germany). The G-8 numbering has been meaningless for a while now, as the E.U. has been represented at the summits for several years, with Romano Prodi (President of the European Commission) currently doing the lying on behalf of the Euro. It seems silly to think any discussion of a global economy wouldn’t include Microsoft, AOL-TimeWarner, and Philip Morris, but then again, maybe Cheney will come through.
Now, there’s some concern the summit will be marred by violence. Ussamah bin Laden would love nothing better than to blow something up and take out a few world leaders, and, of course, the anti-globalization protesters and anarchist punks will show up and continue to turn over trash-cans, break windows, and complain about the price of a McDonald’s cheeseburger. An anti-missile system has been set up, perhaps to display fireworks at the end of the summit. It would be suicide for anyone to attack these world-class bullshitters, as they have the means to take out anyone they choose. And, they’re just looking for an excuse. I’m sure the summit will go off without a hitch. Whether or not anything is accomplished which will contribute to the good of the planet is another matter altogether.
America enjoyed a great degree of prosperity under Bill Clinton. That’s all ancient history with this new Bush administration. Unemployment’s up, spending's down, and the IMF believes we’re going to slip further and screw up foreign economies. Oh, those American companies who control the Republican cronies will undoubtably turn a profit in the years to come, but at the expense of millions and millions of average, hard-working people, in this country and around the world. It’s not that I’ve a problem with the rich getting richer; it’s the cost to the plebes that I object to. It shouldn’t hurt so much.
I never thought I’d miss Reagan’s acting, but I’ve no confidence in this current Republican president whatsoever. His dad was known for tossing chunks at such functions, and I’m sure the son will shit himself or do something to reflect the American ideal at the Genoa summit.
If one is going to wage bull (see a proposed etymology here, under “Shoot the bull”), one should at least be good at it. Maybe Cheney will come through...