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.


TJP said...

Outstanding post, Mike, from the first word right down to the tag.

They are also bad at math. When there are 100 protesters, you make fun of them. When there are 10,000, there are political ramifications in doing so. The current inhabitants of Planet DC don't appear to be noticing the numbers, or are depending on the rapidly attenuating power of the traditional media, (that most people now regard as hilariously unintentional satire of the journalism arts.)

I'm also intrigued by the presence of Randians and Palinites in close proximity. If they accidentally touch, don't they annihilate and produce tremendous amounts of energy? I think I read that in a physics paper.

And who is this Olbermann fellow? Is he another one of those newscast voice synthesizers with an opinion? Boy howdy, we need another one of those.

Breda said...

The box sometimes also contains the head of a very embarrassed cat.

Great post! Your fans here in Colorado will be thrilled.

Mad Saint Jack said...

From the little I've seen of MSNBC most of the black people they show on TV are in prison.

Anonymous said...

Search you tube for the following terms: Klavan shut up

Very short version of what he's saying: calling someone racist, sexist, whateverist, is just the new way of saying "shut up".