Friday, April 02, 2010

Olbermann & the Tea Party
& Obama & the Bus, A Fable:
or Bill Buckley After Taxes

William F Buckley Jr. Wrote in his memoirs,
I said to Johnny Carson that to say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.
Moral equivalence eliminates the ability to judge intent. Now in some cases, particularly when legal sanctions are involved, it is best to rely on actual events and not speculate to much on intentions. That does not apply to making social judgments and it does not apply when the intent is verified by the circumstances of the event and becomes in effect part of it.

For example if person A saw person B rushing towards an old lady with the apparent intent of shoving her and grabbed that person to hold them it would matter if person B yelled "I am saving her from the onrushing bus." Now if the witnesses looked around and saw nothing but a beautiful Spring day and an old lady peacefully crossing the street they would conclude that person B was either a criminal or a lunatic and they would pat person A on the back and give a rousing chorus of "Well done" or "For he's a jolly good fellow." However if those same witnesses looked up only to see the old lady get run over by a bus then they would be overcome by horror and grief such that they would have a natural desire to inflict pain and suffering on person A.

Keith Olbermann claims that any criticism of Obama such as by members of a Tea Party movement, is illegitimate and an expression of racism. In effect he claims that he knows that their intent is wrong and that they are running at the old lady called Liberty with the intent of knocking her down, He wants to be treated like person A holding back the bully to permit the old lady to cross the street peacefully to the promised land of hope and unicorns. He may even think that Obama is the Boy Scout helping the old lady and the Tea Party crowd are toughs throwing beer cans.

The Tea party people see things differently. In their view the old lady is about to get run down by the mad or evil or simply unqualified bus driver Obama and Olbermann is holding them back. Some of them may think that Olbermann wants to see the old lady get hurt. Others may think that he does not care about the old lady but just wants to pick a fight with the Tea Party people. A few may charitably hope that he would want to join in pushing the lady out of harms way but because of astigmatism caused by to much television viewing and reading Chomsky in college Mr Obermann cannot see what is happening.

What should we do to decide who if anyone is trying to hurt the little old lady? We should first look up and check for an onrushing bus. Another way to describe that would be a reality check. Then we can decide if any proposed pushing or pulling would be in the old lady's best interest.

Now clearly the old lady is in danger, there is a bus careening around, and she is already looking a little battered and confused. So the argument that there is no problem except for the wild and destructive actions of the critics of Obama is nonsense. That means that that the competing claims of the character and intentions of person A and person B, Olbermann and the Tea Party members, and also of Obama, the bus driver or Boy Scout must now be evaluated based upon their prior conduct. Given that Obermann and others have overstated the case against the Tea Party by casting them as mad bigots motivated by prejudice, rather than as merely sincere but misguided people pushing in the wrong direction, the existence of real dangers weakens the credibility of Mr Olbermann. The witnesses can also look at the Tea Party members, largely women of a certain age who bear a certain resemblance to the old lady herself, and consider that compared to the claim that they are beer can tossing bigots. Next they will observe Mr Obama and consider whether he has given evidence that he is driving the Bus of State safely Some may consider that it being driven like a bus because the Ship of State seems to have run aground. Finally they may observe that if they do take Olbermann's word that Obama is in fact not the bus driver here but the Boy Scout he seems to be leading the old lady not towards the promised park full of unicorns but rather toward a purple shirted crowd who, unlike the ladies of the Tea Party, are tossing beer cans and yelling racial slurs.

If the people witness this episode of Olbermann, Obama, the Tea Party and the bus they may get very unhappy. They may choose to share their unhappiness with Mr Olbermann's employers now and with Mr Obama's supporters in November. What could prevent that from happening is the possibility that there are no witnesses because the potential witnesses are not on the street keeping an eye on the old lady. They certainly are not watching Mr Olbermann on MSNBC. They are watching American Idol or Avatar or lining up for 'free' health care. That is what David Axelrod might think.

9who doubted Republican efforts and asked a tech Q)
In fairness to McConnell he might have been referring to Republican efforts to introduce portability across State lines, which would reduce the link between insurance and the workplace that is as Milton Friedman pointed out the original cause of the problem, and also the efforts for Tort reform. Both would help lower costs without introducing the government controlled monster that we have.

Tocque has been knocked for 6 by the format monster. I also hope that we get it back.

(copied to the BC thread "The Knife's Edge")

Regarding Walmart, it may have improperly benefited from under the table deals with China during the Clinton years. Missile technology went one direction and cheap plasma TVs went the other way. The economy boomed on paper to the benefit of the Democrats and Walmart. Sam Walton has been a major backer of the Democratic Party. So while my instincts are for letting the market decide it is also possible that there is a legitimate reason for people to feel suspicion.

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