Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tolstoy's Corporal

One of the Colonel's favorite shows on cable is Charlie Rose. Mr. Rose often has very interesting guests with whom he engages in conversation about current events, recently published books, or movie releases. In many instances it provides, if nothing else, an opportunity for the Colonel to understand the mind of the enemy. Sometimes the Colonel is reminded of the old Art Linkletter Show segment wherein he questions a panel of precocious kids. Liberals, like children, say the darnedest things.

Last night, the guest was Michael Lewis, the author of The Big Short, Inside the Doomsday Machine. Lewis' book details the story of a handful of investment savants who saw the rot at the core of the sub-prime mortgage investment pig sty in which the too-big-to-fail Wall Street firms were wallowing and began to sell short--in effect betting against the conventional wisdom on Wall Street. The Colonel hasn't read the book, yet, but the Rose and Lewis discussion of the events detailed in the book was riveting.

The story is intriguing on a number of levels. Perhaps the most amazing element was the fact that a couple of the short-sellers were actually Wall Street insiders who tried to tell everyone that a collapse was coming--to no avail. As preamble to this theme, Lewis begins his book with the following Leo Tolstoy quote:

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-
witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the
simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if
he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of
doubt, what is laid before him."

The Colonel wonders if our current crop of elected national leaders are likewise so "firmly persuaded that [they] know already" that they cannot or will not see the collapse that is coming as consequence of their actions.

The Colonel identifies with Tolstoy's "most slow-witted man." In fact, he is quite certain that had Tolstoy included illustrations with the above quote, the Colonel's likeness would have appeared alongside. Heck, had the Colonel been born in late 18th Century France, there is little doubt he would have gained immortality as Napoleon's Corporal.

There is no clarity like that of a simple idea presented to a simple, uncluttered mind.

Perhaps it's time to send some folks with politically uncluttered minds to Washington to do our business.

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