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I could hardly fail to disagree with you more

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday February 24, 2008 08:00 PM

One of my left-wing mailing lists has enjoyed, over the last few days, a little dust-up started by a Pseudonymus -- let's call him Panting Hart, since even a nom de reseau deserves some consideration when you see it on a mailing list. Hart, a deeply Marxist individual, has nevertheless recently become an apostle for Barack Obama to the lost sheep of the Left.

Perhaps Hart is being ironical -- it's so hard to tell in email. I'd like to believe that. In any case, he recently posted a line of argument to the effect that Barack would be less severe than Hillary on the hapless folk of the Third World, particularly the long-suffering Persians. His evidence? Barack evaded voting for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which infamously declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist" organization. (Hillary, as every schoolboy and most schoolgirls know, voted for it, in a characteristic display of abject slavishness to the Israel lobby. Barack apparently got a pass and was able to avoid voting one way or the other.)

Developing his argument, Hart wrote:

I think there is some evidence that in spite of his rejection of Kyl-Lieberman, Obama may not provide any more resistance to this most dangerous doctrine than Hillary would. But we should not take a chance that his rejection of Kyl Lieberman does not make a difference.
"We should not take a chance that [Obama won't] make a difference." Is that dizzying, or what? Sincere or not, it's the authentic note of lesser-evillism taken to its logical conclusion -- a museum specimen of the gnarled logic and tortured syntax that a DP apologist has to deploy.

We can get over the problematic syntax by re-factoring the sentence: There is a tiny possibility that Barack might be a tiny bit less awful for the poor Persians than Hillary, and we must allow this tiny possibility of a tiny difference to trump all other considerations.

Personally, I don't believe even in the tiny possibility. But let's allow Hart to grasp his conjectural straw.

Suppose we applied this kind of reasoning in daily life. We'd have to wear a bicycle helmet every time we went out the door, or for that matter every time we went to the toilet -- because there is, after all, a small possibility that we might slip and fall, and another small possibility that if we did, the helmet might mitigate our injuries.

Quite apart from the contrived and speculative character of this argument, it's at least equally impressive for its poltroonery. Fear of even the smallest and least likely adverse consequence is supposed to rule our thinking. A chimaera might some day buzz in a void, and if it did, might it not eat us? Or somebody? Or something? Take no risks!

Then of course there's the inversion of the null hypothesis: Hart doesn't have to prove that Yeti exists -- it's for us nonbelievers to prove that he doesn't exist.

Amazing, how many nutty presuppositions you can find packed into a single sentence. This is perhaps the great gift of the Democratic Party to humankind -- a comprehensive, encyclopedic, Barnum's freak show of thought disorders.

Which way to the egress?

Comments (3)

Michael Hureaux:

aye, it reeketh like the republic of Barnumia, to be sure, a sucker borneth every minute etc.

The only good thing that MAY come out of Obomber's presidency might be seen in the energies of the people who genuinely think he's about something. Aside from that, zilch.

Irony? "I think there is some evidence that in spite of his rejection of Kyl-Lieberman...." Really?


the lesser the evilism
the greater the obama ism

bring me Weierstrass

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