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Belmont Club


December 5th, 2013 - 3:57 pm

We all are familiar with the urn experiment from our college statistics classes.  Suppose you have an urn with an unknown proportion of red and green marbles. After being blindfolded you reach into the urn and withdraw a marble and without replacing it draw 9 more. At the conclusion of the sampling there are 10 red balls on the table. What’s your best guess about the proportion of red and green marbles in the urn?

Roger Simon makes a disturbing conjecture: “what if all the marbles in the urn are red?” What he actually he writes is “What if It’s All True?”, by which he means that the president has been caught spinning fictions so often that it is now reasonable to ask, what if it’s all fiction? Simon casts his mind back to a meeting with Jerome Corsi.

Which leads me back to Jerome Corsi. A few years ago, in Chicago for a conference, I was introduced to the author-presidential gadfly who had rented a limo for the day to tour Obama and Obama-related real estate properties in that city’s Hyde Park district. He asked me to come along and, never one to refuse a free invitation, I went, but although I found Corsi personally engaging, I kept thinking quietly that the man was cracked.

No longer. Years and a multiplicity of deceptions later, I think what Corsi said and says is mostly (as in more than fifty percent) true.

That doesn’t mean I believe that Obama was born in Kenya. … Nevertheless, in the wake of the serial lies about Obamacare, Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, media surveillance, the NSA, Syria, Iran, etc., etc., I’m now prepared to believe many things of which I might initially have been at least somewhat skeptical. …

What if they were all true — or, if not all, say thirty, forty or even fifty percent? What if this were actually demonstrated while he was still in office to the degree that the standard spin that all politician lie no longer applied? What if we could prove that it had gone well beyond that, beyond Nixon and Clinton far into the realm of an invented man? What it would that mean, exactly?

It’s not just Roger who’s thought the unthinkable. Just prior to Roger’s article the International Business Daily wrote in an editorial: “Obama biographer David Maraniss, who documented at least 38 instances in the president’s life story that were fabricated. Obama made up people, events and history. … Did America elect a fiction to the White House? Are voters victims of an elaborate con? It’s high time the national media started asking hard questions.”

It won’t help that “President Obama acknowledged on Thursday that he lived with his Kenyan uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while preparing to attend Harvard Law School, contradicting a statement more than a year ago that the White House had no record of the two ever meeting.”

The Globe was at pains to point out that the error came not from the President, but from his underlings. “On Thursday, a White House official said the press office had not fully researched the relationship between the president and his uncle before telling the Globe that they had no record of the two meeting. This time, the press office asked the president directly, which they had not done in 2011.”

Another red marble.  But the problem remains: what percentage of the marbles in the urn are red and how many green? It’s an important question. For example when Obama says he has a good and verifiable agreement with Iran, is that true? When he says he has a good arms control treaty with Russia, is that true? Or is it as true as his statement that “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it. Period”?

Donald Rumsfeld once observed that “There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

  1. Known knowns;
  2. Known unknowns;
  3. Unknown unknowns.

The known knowns are, as Roger Simon observed, very disturbing. They show he has lied frequently in the past. Therefore Obama’s remaining promise is the future, among the known and unknown unknowns.   When Obama’s supporters argue that the public should have ‘faith’ in the president, or the sampling process has been off to a “rocky start”  what they are actually saying the red marbles have already been drawn, having been placed  by ‘saboteurs’ near the top of the urn. From now onward we will see the ‘real Obama’ and it will be green marbles all the way down.

As David Plouffe put it, by 2017 the green marbles will start to show up.  Just you wait. The unknowns when they become known will all be good things, every one emerald green. The alternative thesis is Roger’s worst fear: that it is red marbles right on down.

The main argument against believing the worst is it implies something so monstrous that our minds instinctively rebel against it. As Andy McCarthy put it, lying on the imputed scale would stagger the imagination.

fraud can be so brazen it takes people’s breath away … the individual false statements, sneaky omissions, and deceptive practices… The president’s audacity is bracing, and not just because he lies so casually while looking us in the eye. Obama also insults our intelligence. … To be so bold is to say, in effect, ‘The public is too ignorant and disengaged to catch me, and the press is too deep in my pocket to raise alarms.’”

McCarthy’s observation is interesting because it suggests the existence of a “legend”, a term is used to describe a synthetic identity which replaces an actual biography.  It is not about occasional, isolated falsehood but about a comprehensive alternative reality.  But like all fictions it depends on superficial plausibility.

This vintage OSS training film describes how much attention was devoted to crafting first impressions right down to the labels on a person’s clothing.  But the most important task in a crafting a legend was to create an authentic starting point, which investigators could safely be allowed to examine, since as the OSS noted that having found a surface of fact most sleuths would stop and dig no further.

Thus when dealing with a legend you would expect a thin layer of green marbles at the top and all the red marbles concealed beneath. Indeed the most convincing counterargument to the conjecture “what if it’s all true?”  – is that “they wouldn’t dare” letting anyone see the red marbles found so far.

The most famous rebuttal of “they wouldn’t dare” comes from Adolf Hitler, who I quote with trepidation. However there is no doubt Adolf was an authority on the subject of lying. Hitler argued that a Big Lie was easier to tell than the small one. “In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility … in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”

The idea was not original with Hitler. Anthony Hope Hawkins in his classic the Prisoner of Zenda, had it before him, arguing in his novel that it was easier to personate the King than anyone else. For as long as a man reported to a superior he might be questioned. But once you were acting the king or president, who might question you without risking himself? The Big Lie was safer than the small one.

But there’s a danger. The Prisoner of Zenda correctly notes that every Rudolf Rassendyl must have a Rupert of Hentzau since some rascal who knows the truth can hold the King at risk. Roger Simon arrives at the same conclusion and argues that if Obama were constructed on a legend it would provide huge leverage for America’s enemies.

Consider for a moment that whatever theories we have about Obama, whatever prevarications and deceptions of which we are aware or unaware, are known equally to our adversaries — the intelligence agencies of China, Russia and Iran. Even if they were too dumb to figure it out for themselves, which they’re not, they read our newspapers and blogs.

These totalitarian — or near totalitarian, depending on how you want to parse it — states depend on lies for their existence. In Obama they have found a partner in crime, a semblable, as Baudelaire would say. They are currently exploiting this. In all likelihood our world will never be the same.

We are for the moment left in suspense. But one would be a fool not to recognize that Obama’s lies — the known knowns — have created an enormous amount of uncertainty about the unknowns. There’s a lot yet to find out about the President, there are a lot of cards still to turn over. They may be big smiling cards — ask Plouffe — or they might be the mother of all losing hands.

He’s almost the equivalent of his eponymous healthcare act. You had to pass that one to find out what it said. America has had to elect Barack Obama to find out who they elected. Perhaps we should end on Zenda’s last words and George Smiley’s observations on deceit:

Where is young Rupert of Hentzau—the boy who came so nigh to beating me? When his name comes into my head, I feel my hand grip and the blood move quicker through my veins: and the hint of Fate—the presentiment—seems to grow stronger and more definite, and to whisper insistently in my ear that I have yet a hand to play with young Rupert; therefore I exercise myself in arms, and seek to put off the day when the vigour of youth must leave me.

One break comes every year in my quiet life. Then I go to Dresden, and there I am met by my dear friend and companion, Fritz von Tarlenheim. Last time, his pretty wife Helga came, and a lusty crowing baby with her. And for a week Fritz and I are together, and I hear all of what falls out in Strelsau; and in the evenings, as we walk and smoke together, we talk of Sapt, and of the King, and often of young Rupert; and, as the hours grow small, at last we speak of Flavia. For every year Fritz carries with him to Dresden a little box; in it lies a red rose, and round the stalk of the rose is a slip of paper with the words written: “Rudolf—Flavia—always.”

“Of all men living, only Karla had seen the last little doll inside Bill Haydon”.

Great Moments in History

Great Moments in History

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Top Rated Comments   
How many marbles?
Has Obama lost his marbles? is he the kind of nasty kid who'd have spilled marbles in front of an ice-skater? Is he America's Ensign Pulver, collecting marbles to annoy the Old Man?

Machiavelli said that while virtue is good, the Prince has a duty to be effective. His success is his people's. To ensure success it is necessary for the Prince to tell lies. He makes that sacrifice, imperiling his soul, for the good of his nation. Failure is more likely if you tell a clumsy lie and get caught. To avoid failure you must practice. Obama is ready for Carnegie Hall. For a reputedly lazy man he has worked consistently over years at honing his craft of mendacity.

What usually destroys a fantasist if the one glaring inconsistency that proves to be reality. A simple truth that can't be hidden, his flat feet or crazy uncle or anything else that while not damning in itself is simply mundane and flawed, throws the artificial stories into relief. The Legend fails when it proves inflexible. In reality small flaws can be shrugged off. Someone real can show up wearing mismatched socks and laugh it off. Obama is to brittle, he can't acknowledge his flaws but must try to stuff down inquiry. Bush had no problem with releasing his transcripts, McCain could boast of his failures, but Obama could not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have the diagnosis. It is cancer. The odds are that it is untreatable by any means. It definitely untreatable by normal means, and thus we are forced as a last resort to look to unorthodox treatments not normally part of the standard treatment template. To convince the patient of that necessity, we first have to convince him of the reality of the diagnosis, its seriousness, and the hopelessness of normal means.

It is time now to bring articles of impeachment against him. Even if the Senate is in Democratic hands now, it might not be by the time the House delivers the indictment to them. The investigation with subpoena powers by the House would blow the cover off the whole Obama fraud and deliver us from the final two years of his otherwise presidency, thus saving us from the ruin that lies in our path.<<<

Or, attempting to use the subpoena power, and getting the same result we've seen all along with Fast & Furious, Benghazi et al, might show how determined Obama is at becoming exactly the leader that all the Constitutional restrictions on government were devised to thwart.<<<

OR.....They(the House) make the initial required moves prior to the Holidays (any holiday). Adjourn. Go home. And upon starting to return to D.C. find themselves detained/arrested, at the airport. On the plane. At the Train station. Individually by DHS. Whisked off to Gitmo. And held incommunicado by Emergency Orders from the Office of the President.
Sure it's illegal. But what difference does it make now. They're held. Who fights back? Most of the Cops work for the Executive Branch. The Combat troops and non-political leaders are in the 'Stans. Or on the street.
Who stands up as the Constitution is torn up and discarded?<<<

THESE THREE LINKED POSTS have the truth of the matter. This is all that we have left to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution we have sworn the Oath to, at least within the purview of the first three of the four boxes. If the Institutionals refuse to act, for fear or for reasons of collaboration with the *coup* that has taken place; there is no alternative to Clausewitz's dictum.

*Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln.*

For those who still have faith in the courage, honor, or loyalty of the Institutionals in this matter, there is another phrase that OldSaltUSN might appreciate:

*Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum.*

And for those who have some remaining faith in "Teh Won":

*Obama loves America the same way that OJ loved Nicole.*

The middle game is over. We are entering the end game, and each move is more critical than before. For the design margin is gone from our political system.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Finding out that the president is a fiction is much like finding out that despite the reassurances of everyone, you do have cancer. It's not something you want to be right about.

In fact you would rather be wrong about it. You will have scant time to exult in the accuracy of your self-diagnosis because it will soon be crowded out by the the pressing problem of what to do next.

Nobody should want the president to turn out to be a comprehensive liar. Because that essentially means we are the up the creek without a paddle. In fact most would desperately hope -- cling to hope in fact -- rather than have it turn out that he was mostly made up.

So I would rather not be diagnosed with cancer. All I want is a reason to believe that I don't.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (113)
All Comments   (113)
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many of us warned people about him and "republicans" and "conservatives" spent a lot of time trying to figuratively destroy us.
so to those who are now waking up....GFY.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is a cure for incurable cancer:

And as of this moment it is only the Federal Government and Conservatives standing in the way.

Even "conservatives" prefer blindness and ignorance when it contradicts their beliefs. Belief is not a cure for what ails us. Belief is what ails us.

Me? I'm an engineer. I prefer doubt and reality. They are better guides.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gosh, is there *any* metaphor you won't torture or hijack for a chance to flack your pet cause?

Please cite the study or polls showing 100% of conservatives are opposed to the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use. One would think an engineer boasting his intellectual powers would know better than to make sloppy blanket assertions without backing up those assertions with hard numerical evidence.

Unless of course you just come to troll, in which case you aren't interested in making a rational argument.

Boor AND bore. Congratulations, Mr. Homonym ad Hominem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Further: I note your anger. A sure sign that you have issues not connected to rational thought. Perhaps I have found a chink in the "conservatives are rational" argument by pointing out a place where they are not.

Does that include all conservatives? Well of course not. I know some in favor. Personally. Here is one I have just read about:

But generally Republicans (whose base is the TradCons) are lagging on the matter. Eventually the left will use that against them. I'd rather avoid that. But it does make politics interesting to watch.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here is some more on the issue of conservatives:
Headline: Cato expert: Conservatives betraying small-government values by opposing pot legalization - link:

But the question is: does the evidence presented by the biochemist support the use of cannabis against cancer?

What does the NIH have to say?

Over 7,000 cites on the question.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It doesn't need to be 100% to keep the politicians from acting. But since you asked.

Now I understand Republicans and conservatives are not identical. But there is more overlap there than with Democrats. Well this might be of some help:

Now the question is: is the biochemist correct? Does he correctly evaluate the endocannabinoid pathways?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, Hitler told the BIG LIE. But he wasn't immune from the effects of Obama either.

Hitler's health insurance is cancelled

These days we all need a good laugh!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you always tell the truth you don't have to keep up with the lies. You probably would never get elected either.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you don't mind, as Obama clearly doesn't, being inconsistent then lying can ve simple and fun.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Our task is to be the victors, and write history. Otherwise we don't matter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Recently Obama's illegal alien uncle was arrested on drunk driving charges. After he was arrested he said Obama had lived with him for a couple weeks during the 1980's. This was in direct contradiction of an earlier story put out by the Obama admin.

So who are you going to believe. An illegal alien or the President of the United States?

Naturally the president changed his story and said, he had stayed with his illegal alien uncle for a couple weeks back in the 1980's.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Picard to Gul Lemec: "There are FIVE Marbles!!!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Equal rights for black marbles!

Red/green rayciss!

ps - "urn"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The red marbles have always been green.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That question has been asked many times by both Wretchard and the 'regular' commenters here. Many possible answers have been tossed back and forth. A good place to start is Wretchard's The War of the Words.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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