Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Battling Tops 2.0

   I used to love those Milton Bradley games, Ker-Plunk! Mouse Trap, Trouble! Operation, Twister among others. My favourite game though was always Battling Tops!  Each person controlled one of four 'Tops' positioned in each corner of the 'ring' and once launched, would do battle with the other tops by virtue of it's intense spin. The tops would bump into one another, hopefully knocking ones opponents off balance, and 'out' of the game. Each top had a fun 'nickname' which helped give the plastic spinning tops an anthropomorphic persona.
     Last night I watched the Fox News equivalent of this 60's kids game, courtesy of youtube: (Gerald Celente about the Wikileaks on Fox business 01 Dec 2010).
   It's been a while since I've watched these kinds of spectacles on television, although they happen with regularity throughout the televised media, nobody does it better (or worse) than Fox!
The format consists of a usually partisan host (in this case a gentleman who's name is not mentioned in the clip), and brings on 'experts' (well paid experts) with opposing viewpoints, this racket quickly degenerates into a free for all I've dubbed 'Battling Tops 2.0'.
 If he wasn't being payed to do this segment, I would have said "poor Gerald Celente" as he attempts, towards the end of this 'feeding frenzy of ignorance', to compose himself, vaguely shielding an underlying sadness brought on by what must seem like some kind of bad acid trip.
    The panel all seem intelligent, if intelligence can be measured by being fast on ones feet, like the 'spinning tops'  I am comparing them to. The host seems like a down to earth kind of guy who believes the narrative that Wikileaks somehow puts American lives in jeopardy, and that Western interests are a force of goodness in the world, I do not wish to criticize his beliefs, I merely point out that, if these are his viewpoints, they are not solely made through the use of rational argumentation, and the analysis of data, but by assumptions, which the format of an eight minute roundtable argument could never, due to temporal limitations, address.
    The essentials of Celente's viewpoint, is that 'transparency' is a 'good thing' as it exposes the "buffoonery" of our officials before our eyes, and does not put anyone at risk, as the critics of the Wikileak cable dumps suggest it does. The shows host then introduces us to Mike Baker, a former C.I.A. officer who's job it is to counter Celente's arguments. Leading up to the introduction, the host cites many good examples of instances where intelligence gathering thwarted potential terrorist attacks, and then goes on to postulate his straw man argument that somehow Celente would prefer that everything be out in the open, Gerald Celente is slow to respond to that false allegation, but eventually does by saying: "That's not what I said!"   

    Obviously Mike Baker takes the opposite view. Unlike Mr.Celente, he begins not by making his case, but in true 'Sophist' tradition, by attacking the man ad hominem.
   He does this by speculating that Gerald must have some "deep operational intelligence knowledge" and that he's "not sure where to go" with Celente's arguments as they "border on the bizarre." This statement is met with chuckles from our host, in a sense of nervous solidarity with Mr. Baker.   Well they certainly do border on the bizarre, Mike, just as a solar eclipse, or passing comet may have seemed bizarre to early humans before a basic understanding of the heavens was achieved.
   Mr.Baker does not understand Mr.Celente's viewpoints, nor does the host, because they don't ask him any objective questions that are unbiased by their beliefs. In school, we are taught, that when not understanding, we must ask questions, until the asker understands. At that point, based on a level of satisfaction, the person asking can then decide to either accept or reject the information.
   G.C. says the Wikileaks disclosures demonstrates "people concerned with photo op's, handshakes, back biting and incompetence", to which  M.B. says "welcome to the real world, Gerald!"  If the exposure of the 'real world', via leaked documents, is supposed to be a threat, yet it's assumed that one is naive to point out a 'reality' which is laughably obvious, then it's a 'no win' situation…all constructive communication breaks down from that point onward.
   Mike Baker then puts forward his 'straw man argument' by stating that "Assange paints himself as an Anarchist, so therefore by definition, doesn't care about anything, or certainly doesn't care about the consequences of his actions." Mr. Baker proves himself to be a very skilled and highly intelligent manipulator saying "by definition", which creates a kind of hypothetical straw man argument, without ever directly accusing Mr.Assange of these assertions.
   Later, I understand the host effectively asking why our governments should be left open, when other countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran remain closed? To which Mr. Celente's shoots back "We're supposed to be living in a democracy!" and then goes on to say that our politicians talk until they're "blue in the face" about transparency… and then Gerald  mentions the 'taboo' subject of "a cover up!"  Our 'spinning top' called Mike Baker then jumps in to attack, sarcastically remarking: "Full marks for getting three minutes into this before mentioning 'cover-up'!" as if to paint Celente as a 'paranoid' (this comment was made well into the SIXTH minute of the clip, by the way). Mr. Baker's cocksure nature can be very intimidating to a fellow panelist, let alone any shell shocked viewer, absorbing this information in their 'down time'.
    Mr.Baker's final point is, that the more incompetent we look, the less likely foreign governments will be willing to give us information, and share their insights, and the closer we will get to REAL problems overseas!"  This last statement sounds sensible at first, but as you think deeper, it too is fraught with problems. The first being the assumption that the intelligence shared, would always be accurate, and never meant to deceive. The second being, is his final assertion, "the closer we get to real problems overseas"   Hey Dude!!!   we've already got "real problems overseas" and the hubris of our 'Leaders' have manifested this situation.
    The hosts point, and legitimate concern is that we put people in harms way by having an 'open book'.    Which 'people' is he speaking of? our elected officials? no, they have more security available to them then Julian Assange, or anyone else for that matter does. Our soldiers, and other members of the security state? Well at least they're armed with the finest weapons made by man. Or perhaps he's speaking of innocent civilians, of which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people have died in those countries, whose loves, and lives are just as precious as yours and mine.
   The basic premise that the Wikileaks cable disclosures put 'lives' in danger is debatable at best, not via the sideshow of Battling Tops 2.0,  but through the forums of healthy discourse available to our elected officials, and in our institutes of higher learning, print media, and for common folk like me, over the internet.
     What does it say about our governments, who seek to shield the world from truths which threaten their claims to power, and therefore the voters confidence? unless, of course, the intelligence data leaked is not entirely true, but in reality, merely another deception!
     Fortunately, it's only T.V. !   However, given the power of that media, I fear the further atrophying of intelligent debate in society is resulting in a brand NEW  'bored game' for the 21st century, called…Revolution!  by Milton Bradley
-Dirty C.T. December 2010

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