Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Thought Saturday

Occasionally, one of the voices of importance will say in effect, "We are going to have to accept the fact of our own decline. We must accustom ourselves to returning to being just one nation of many. We couldn't expect to be on top forever."

Is the American era ending?

Beats me.

But I can imagine some Roman Bigwig around the middle of fourth century saying the same things about the empire.

He was right, as in his prophecy proved correct.

Paradoxically, the words he used were wrong.

He should have said, "Pretty soon here, people will be coming to kick in your door, take your stuff, and burn your house. And we won't be able to stop them."
I wonder if he had said that, would the Romans have been more motivated to stand up for the idea of Rome? Or, had the men kicking in doors and taking stuff been their own government officials so long, that the people didn't see much difference between the new plunderers and the old?

Oh, by the way did you see the news?

Enough of this sort of thing and sharia law might start looking good to someone who just wants a little peace and quiet.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's In The Box?

Let's play a game called "What's in the box?" It works like this - imagine a box (duh... why do you think we named it that you big silly), inside is either: 1. A pile of gold coins; or 2. An angry venomous snake.

You play this game by reaching in and grabbing... wait for it... WHAT'S IN THE BOX. Amusing, no?

It's a good game for cutting through pretense and revealing what people are really like.

Some folks won't play no matter how much they stand to gain - the fear of being bitten outweighs any possible benefit.

Some will say, "Gold? I'm going to get me some of that!" shove their arm into the box, and start grabbing around.

Others, will balance the risks against the rewards: How much gold? What kind of snake? What are the odds, what are my chances? They may end up bitten, but at least are making a stab at critical thought.

Note the symmetry - two ends and a middle in a neat package. This represents the world we deal with. Motivations are, if not entirely rational, at least understandable.

But there is a type of person who does not reside on this continuum. They can watch you put a snake in the box, shake it up to get the critter good and irritated, and even write "Warning! Live Angry Poisonous Snake Inside!" and still they will reach in the box. They act as though they believe the snake will be turned to gold by the force of their will; that the world is what they say it is.

Admittedly, it seems to work out that way often enough that people will start believing it is true. Bernie Madoff appeared able to turn snakes into gold... for a time.

For the non-continuum people, I don't think it's a question of gain or loss, but of control. They must prove the universe conforms to them, and not the other way around. It's not about the gold; it's about the winning. All challenges are personal, and none are small. There is no difference between a coin flip for a dinner check and a world war.

They are
Kieth Olbermann.

After watching this video, I was puzzled because I've been to a couple of tea parties, and from what I can tell, this is pretty much the identical group of people. There are Ayn Rand fans, Ron Paul Fans, Sarah Palin Fans, and a large contingent of "never protested anything in my life, but there is a trainwreck coming, and I want it stopped" fans. But if there were any racists present, they kept it well hidden. If you were to poll these people, you'd probably find they disagree on more issues than they agree on, but what they agree on outweighs minor quibbles about gay marriage, guns, and Iraq. What they agree on is stopping the trainwreck.

Over there on the continuum, the smart (at least smartish) members of the political class are watching and trying, bless their hearts, to figure out... What's In The Box. The democrats are hoping it's something that won't hurt them; the republicans are hoping it's something that will help them, and they're all hoping they aren't the one who gets pushed into the cellar with the candelabra and shovel to see what the noise is.

But Olbermann has decided the box is full of racists and hate mongers. Has to be - he has said so. By sheer force of will he's turned gold into snakes. He has a cable talk show, and the ear of The Ones Who Matter, and fans, and so on and on. The protesters are racists. Q.E.D.

Should you fall into one or the other of our broad political groups, you should be used to name calling (you commie, nazi, dimmocrat, republithug knuckle dragger). However, for those who are politically active for the first time, being reviled and, not always figuratively, spat upon, is probably a new experience. "Hi, I'm Kieth, and I'll be spitting on you this evening, we have a lovely little vitriol - a '72 I believe - goes with everything, and also some bile if you are in the mood. For dessert the chef his whipped up a little sneering condescension ."

Olbermann is not alone in turning gold into snakes. Similarly blessed are: the Washington Post, New York Times, the Speaker of the House, and the president along with his advisers.

In a democracy, a politician's future depends on finding and winning a constituency. And when one presents itself, giftwrapped in a box, a wise politician will at least make a pretense of listening to them. Hell, even an angry crowd is a crowd, and every politician needs crowd. Winning the crowd is how you stay in office - It's kind of expected.

Maybe, "win the crowd" means something different to non-continuum people. Maybe to them, it means, "In the next appropriations bill, we'll write an earmark for some bike path improvements, and a library." It is a time tested tactic for winning over even the crankiest voters. I'll bet Mr. and Mrs. Teaparty will go right home and shut up once they see the nifty new bike path they have been gifted. It really isn't a bad bet if you are the one doing the handing out. And has the added plus of letting you avoid mingling with, well frankly, the commoners.

The current crew in charge must figure, having once turned gold into snakes, the reverse is just as easy, and come next election, they are going to reach into that box and pull out handfuls of gold.

They think it's guaranteed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

About last night...

I haven't see this mentioned explicitly, but the next big fear for the Democrats is if things improve economically in Va. and N.J. - an alternative to
their plans will have been shown to work.

Now, honesty compels me to admit the economy might improve on its own - the business cycle is hard to repress - even by our current ham-handed-dolts-in-charge.

But people being what they are - firmly convinced post hoc ergo propter hoc, the new governors in those states will get the credit anyway, and the dems know it.

They are trapped into wishing ill on the citizens of New Jersey and Virginia to advance their own (never let a good crisis go to waste) agenda.

Would a Chicago lawyer and product of the Cook County Democratic machine be so low as to try to sabotage any recovery in those states to punish them for voting wrong?

I'd like to think not. But people being what they are, it should be watched for nonetheless.

As I recall, no one believed a king would order the death of an archbishop.

Um... except for the guys who did the cutting -- I guess they believed it.

But that type of sycophantic follower never ends up near the seat of power anymore, because only kings and czars , not presidents, have any use for blindly obedient hatchet men.