Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take down the monuments

All over America, war memorials manifest and encourage pride in Americans who fought obediently in every stupid and even vicious war the elites have wished on us.

Filial piety properly motivates headstones for our fathers who died in battle, whether admirably, tragically, or even shamefully.

But for the sake of truth, for the sake of our contemporaries, and for the sake of those to come, we ought not to be commemorating as though with pride wars we can only regret, and much less those we must regret with shame.

Since the American Revolution not a single war the US has fought was necessary and some have been shameful.

Even the Revolution is questionable.

Only candor can give any hope that our future will not resemble our bellicose past.

And monuments to past wars all over the country undermine and contradict that candor.

Take down the monuments.

If the feeling cannot be avoided that some form of public commemoration is necessary let the Holocaust Museum provide the model.

But it’s best to skip it, altogether.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yes, the mission will fail

What the heck.

It was doomed from the start.

A fool’s errand.

Just another Vietnam.

Really, really big money for the military-industrial complex, though, hasn't it been?

And that was always the main point for so many who supported the neocon wars.

Halliburton was just the tip of the iceberg.

Best to be an ungodly nation

Taliban behead 17 for mixed party

OK, even KOS would agree the Christian right wouldn’t go that far.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rod Dreher, apostle of liberty. Not.

Liberals control the culture

Don’t be so sure.

Not everyone who mocks religion or rejects religious authorities is a liberal.

Not everyone who refuses to comply with the hyper-repressed morality of Christian officialdom is a liberal.

Not every murderer, rapist, extortionist, thief, or criminal of any sort is a liberal.

Not every director, writer, or actor whose characters are criminals is a criminal, himself.

Not every science-fiction writer is an alien.

Many of Hollywood’s most notorious inhabitants are not liberals, at all.

Ours is indeed a culture that has largely, though by no means fully, escaped the repressive power of the clergy, thrust aside by the sexual and cultural revolutions of the 20th Century with massive and indispensable aid from the Warren Court and its ideological – that is to say, liberal – descendants.

And all of that is to the good.

But it does not mean our culture is controlled by, populated by, or exclusively inhabited by liberals.

If that were so we would have no fear for this fall's election, and perhaps no opponents!

It only means it is not controlled by Christian clergy exercising their repressive power through the law.

Note well what Dreher and those with whom he sympathizes actually want, with all their whining.

They want people to be made to stop laughing at them.

They want people to be forced to at least pretend to respect them.

They want people’s expression to be subject to a clerical censorship insulating them from not only obvious unbelief but disrespect.

They want culture high and low to be made to conform to Christianity’s stupid and fantastically repressive morality.

And maybe more than anything else they want sex driven out of TV, films, plays, music, and all our culture, back into hiding where it was in the good old days of, say, the American 1950s.

Or maybe the 1650s, in New England.

You want to a better view of what they want?

Check out the burgeoning Christian fiction and Christian inspiration sections at your local B&N, whose space is otherwise more and more taken up with toys and games and less and less with books.

And you, reader?

As for me, I want no such thing.

As for Dreher, post-Christian sexuality in America just fills him with disgust and loathing.

And shame, he implies.

And maybe fear.

'Sexual Careers' in Late Roman America

As I said.

Boo, hoo.

Oh, and a tip of the hat to KOS.

Rod Dreher, American Taliban.

Booman asked, What about that 21 year sentence in Norway?

serious question

This was my reply.

- - - - -

Public safety would be best served if he were executed quickly and cheaply.

The Weimar Republic used a small, easily transported guillotine.

I assume that is not possible, but still.

Dead men never do it again.

Others might.

Given, however, that capital punishment is not possible, transportation for life to some place from which he cannot reasonably be expected to return, or anyway cannot return on pain of death, might work out well enough.

Who doubts Norway has wilderness amounting to a frozen hell where a fellow like this might actually survive for a time, but well away from the public to which he would be a menace, up close, with an axe and a dog-sled?

But if his countrymen feel for whatever reason compelled to spend lots of money on the fellow's upkeep while protecting themselves (and us?) from him then by all means let them lock him up someplace forever.

Can you seriously imagine a hearing board deciding to let this guy out 21 years from now?

They would put the fools who let out Jack Abbott on Mailer's say-so quite in the pale.

On the other hand, even in the present case and at least in principle, there is always the bare - even if extremely bare - possibility the system has convicted the wrong guy.

When that happens the public safety is actually harmed in two ways, at least.

First, the real bad guy is still out there posing whatever danger he poses.

And second, when the criminal justice system swallows an innocent man that is a harm to the public of which he is a part.

(The real bad guy being in contrast, of course, a public enemy.)

This risk accompanies any system at all of trying to find and deal with the guilty to protect the innocent, no matter how the guilty are dealt with.

It is not unique to the death penalty.

It might even be smaller, in death penalty cases, given the time and trouble and expense US states must go to before a convicted person can be executed.

Anyway, all of us pretty much assume we are better off if there is a criminal justice system to find and deal with the dangerous, and deal with them effectively and at reasonable cost, than if there is not, even in the face of what we must hope is a moderately low rate of mistaken conviction.

A rate we must wish to see lowered, certainly, if that does not unreasonably increase costs or the net danger to the public.

That much for the public safety angle.

I don't for a moment suggest there are no other considerations to attend to, of different kinds.

- - - - -

But of course these cannot include moral considerations, though I neglected to say so at the Booman Tribune.

Nor religious.

Divine law, allegedly revealed, surmised, or merely impostured, is out of the question.

As well as the alleged natural or moral kind.

Oh, AP says this.

"In his final words, Breivik regretted not killing more people, apologizing to other 'militant nationalists' for not achieving an even higher death toll."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"American Taliban"?

KOS's equation, Christian right = Taliban, seems less hyperbolic the more I think about it.

American Atheists, under threats, has taken down some billboards denouncing Mormonism and Christianity it had set up near the site of the coming Democratic National Convention, one supposes from the usual scum of good Christians.

They say they would have toughed it out but the billboard company and its employees were threatened, too, and they weren't game.

A minor blip in the news media that had at first reported the billboards, only briefly, pretty much in their normal way of regarding atheism as an affront to American values and were then far from shocked or filled with regret at this development.

What would have happened if the threats had come from Muslims?

You know as well as I.

A nationwide media earthquake.

And we would still be hearing from the Republican clericalists like Newt and Rick and the rest that Obama and the Justice Department are soft of Islam and maybe even sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jihad Watch and the other Islamophobe websites would be going wild.

The demands for urgent federal action against domestic Muslim terrorism would be deafening from all quarters of the right wing noise machine.

Not a peep, though, about this incident.

And it was common as good American dirt, too.

Muslim terrorism in America, rare as hen's teeth, always gets tremendous press coverage.

Not so the much more common, one might almost say everyday, Christian kind.

All my life, the hatred of nearly all Christian Americans toward atheists has been as open, if not as strong or as violent, as white hatred for non-whites.

I have seen it every time someone, in early days usually someone associated with the O'Hairs and American Atheists, sought to put a stop to Bible thumping or prayer in some public school, or protested the exclusion of evolution from the teaching of biology or, perhaps worse, the inclusion of the Biblical creation myth.

Wikipedia says the founding matron, Madelyn Murray O'Hair, was dubbed the most hated woman in America by Time in 1964, primarily for her efforts to take the public schools out of the hands of the clergy.

That hatred has never gone away and never really diminished.

All my life, it has been pretty much always the same people who loathed blacks, despised Jews, hated atheists, and thought homosexuals lower than the dirt on the soles of their shoes.

Still seems that way, doesn't it?

Conservatism is an alliance of greed on principle with credulity on principle

Theirs is, indeed, the stupid party while ours is the – relatively – humane and merely human party.

Both sides are right.

The Fox clericalists are right in claiming SPLC is labeling traditional Christianity itself the enemy and Christianity a teaching of hate.

Traditional Christianity is the enemy and Christianity is a teaching of hate.

And SPLC is right in calling the FRC a hate-group specifically, though by no means only, for their message on homosexuality – a message that is exactly the same as that of every Christian denomination and a core principle of Christian morality.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Plan ahead

So they scheduled their convention for hurricane season in Florida, I hear.

Interesting choice.

But better than New Orleans, I suppose.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Visiting the grandchildren for the weekend.

When we took them all out for daughter's birthday son-in-law reminded me of the essence of modern conservatism.

Un-provoked and out of the blue he launched into a declamation on how, unlike those crazy rich Democrats, he didn't want to pay taxes, at all.

And if they really felt that way about it they could just write the IRS a check and leave him out of it.

He works for a defense contractor, so you can guess his attitude toward military spending and the "war on terror."

He's one of those very frank "Let them die" guys and won't hear of global warming.

His party makes endless noise about patriotism, but all it seems to mean is enthusiasm for war and "the American Way," defined as prioritizing the altogether fictitious rights of property over everything else.

This is what they are really talking about when they say liberty is their supreme political value, if not the only value.

By "liberty" they mean only economic liberty, and that they understand as only markets unfeterred by regard for any competing values.

You and I might think love of country would prioritize democracy and the common good, subordinating all things economic - including the definition of property rights - to that.

You might think lovers of their country would loathe war and cherish peace, and would sacrifice unnecessary military expenses for schools, hospitals, and the real welfare of their countrymen.

And you would be right.

And you would be a socialist.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

They get to tell us, the people, what is the American idea?

Rothschild quotes Nichols quoting Ryan.

“What I’ve been trying to do is indict the entire vision of progressivism.

“I see progressivism as the source, the intellectual source for the big government problems that are plaguing us today.

“And so to me it’s really important to flush progressives out into the field of open debate—so people can actually see what this ideology means and where it’s going to lead us and how it attacks the American idea.”

Phooey on him and that so-called "American idea" of his.

Liberal anti-democracy

Leading liberal blogster BooMan goes on record with George Will, Pat Buchanan, and a multitude of right-wing anti-democrats in calling for repeal of the 17th Amendment, restoring choice of US senators to state legislatures.

I am not kidding.

You thought it was bad when liberals got squishy over Social Security.

You thought it was a sellout when they went for free trade under the fig leaf of “fair trade.”

Well, it’s worse than you thought.

John Stuart Mill was right when he argued for the popular vote that when the people are powerless they get eaten alive by the powerful.

Yes, they do stupid and ignorant things with power because they are inherently and always stupid and ignorant.

We have to try to deal with that.

But even so, if power is taken from them they will certainly become all the more decidedly the cattle of the powerful.

Update 9/14.

Booman has done it again.

He has again urged repeal of the 17th Amendment.

He today has come out strongly for taking the senate further out of the hands of the people than it already is so that senators can, with still greater safety, ignore the popular will.

Booman is apparently confident the senators will do this only out of their greater wisdom, virtue, and conern not only for domestic but for global good.

They will not, of course, do this to defend the interests and prejudices of the elites to which they belong.

Heavens, no!

How could you think such a thing of people who are, after all, not of the common ruck?


I am mistaken.

He only briefly considered mere repeal of the 17th Amendment.

He then considered life tenure.

And he then considered an hereditary upper house.

But he finally settled on a senate in which all and only the nation's billionaires would be members, their qualifications determined by the IRS annually, all the better to identify and insulate the wise few from the pressure and noise of the ignorant, tumultuous rabble.

Yes, that would be much better.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Racism and religious conflict

Samhita Mukhopadhyay writes in The American Prospect that “There is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ minorities – racism affects us all.”

Thus he endorses the worldwide line of the generic left that Islamophobia is a species of racism and demands solidarity among minorities.

Well, actually, among South Asians.

Apparently, Middle Eastern men of the Islamic persuasion will have to work things out for themselves.

Anyway, in the 19th Century the Mormons were driven by violent persecution from New York all the way to that godforsaken desert region around the Great Salt Lake they now make their headquarters, their founder and leader, Joseph Smith, having been killed for his religious views along the way in Illinois.

If today’s liberal propagandists felt the need to defend the Mormons they’d denounce the odium theologicum behind the persecution as racism.

It is as though there was some sort of vast conspiracy among pundits, journos, and historians to hide from us how dominated our politics are by religious ideas, loyalties, and organizations.

So many of us like to think ours is a secular age and that politics not only should be but mostly has been about secular differences, secular ideologies, and secular aspirations since the Enlightenment.

And so we pretend important political conflicts are not intimately tied to religion so we can pretend there is no need to quarrel specifically and frankly about religion.

Well, unless it’s the Christian religion, both in our past and in our present.

Seriously confused people aside, few on the left are shy about their fear of and loathing for Christianity – liberal, i.e., unbelieving Christianity excepted, of course.

Few indeed are the Jews who are shy about the same feelings toward the Catholic Church.

And the Israeli must indeed be rare who is not filled by fear and loathing of Islam every time he sees some Muslim holy man on TV insisting the Jews are beasts and devils whom Allah demands should be exterminated.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The natural law

The idea of the natural law familiar throughout the Occident and all Christian lands has come down to us from ancient times through the medieval period and the enlightenment and into our own day.

It is the idea of an objective moral law not made in any way by humans, God, the gods, or anyone at all but discoverable to humans that prescribes rights and duties, establishes natural justice, and proscribes crimes.

Fundamental to this whole line of thought is this:

A.      What does not comport with the moral (natural) law is wrong.

And likewise:

B.      What conflicts with a moral (natural) right is wrong.


C.      What conflicts with natural justice is wrong.

Now, as explained in earlier posts, these moral claims A, B, and C, like any others, are not true. But neither are they false. They are, in fact, simply meaningless.

All the same, that does not settle the question whether there is such a thing as the natural law, or whether there are such things as natural rights.

The meaninglessness of A thru C no more entails the non-existence of the natural law or natural rights or natural justice or the moral law than the meaninglessness of the following entails the non-existence of US federal law.

D.      It is wrong to disobey US federal law.

On the other hand, without the truth of A thru C the question of the existence of such things reduces to that of the existence of certain species of abstract entities in the same sort of ontological boat as properties, propositions, sets, numbers, and so on.

So understood, however, the question of the existence of these things is of speculative interest, only, and without practical bearing.

On the other hand, it is sometimes claimed that the natural law, the moral law, natural rights, and natural justice are such that the following is necessarily true.

E.       What conflicts with natural law, the moral law, natural rights, or natural justice is morally wrong.

That is, if such things exist then E is true.

But E is not true, being meaningless.

So, on that understanding, there are no such things as the natural law, the moral law, natural justice, or natural rights.

As an aside I point out that though some authors claim “right,” “wrong,” “permissible,” “impermissible,” and the like in their moral use denote queer properties that do not exist that notion is itself mistaken.

The truth is that they do not denote anything, though it is fundamental to the moral delusion that they do.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Isolationism, a minority view

Both of America’s major parties are committed to American military globalism and interventionism.

The same is true of the broad political factions, the liberals and the conservatives, who support and seek to control the major parties.

Though the ostensible need has passed with the end of the Cold War, they are all committed to our continued participation in NATO and the UN, partly though by no means entirely because they are in the pockets of the military-industrial complex and they are in the hands of an extensive and powerful Zionist lobby.

Both parties want to keep up our bases in Europe, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, in Africa, in the Far East, in the Pacific, in Central and South Asia, and wherever they are to be found.

Indeed, they aim to expand our commitments and base construction into many new areas.

They are committed to militarily challenging and intimidating into obedience both Russia and China, both of which have given up Communism and neither of which would be a threat to America or American interests were we not committed to threatening and coercing both of them.

And they - all right, mostly the conservatives within the Republican Party - have exaggerated the real, dangerous, and deplorable phenomenon of Islamism, though primarily limited to nations with Muslim majorities or significant Muslim minorities, into a global bogey.

I am among the isolationist minority opposed to all of this.

I would prefer the US renounce all those foreign commitments and withdraw all our forces to North America north of the equator.

I would prefer the US give up its expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary habit of insisting on being “the indispensable nation” and meddling in everything, everywhere in the world.

I disbelieve claims our vital interests require any of this, much less all of it.

I disbelieve any moral claims that we are obliged to maintain any or all of these commitments and continue our pattern of global meddling.

And that includes such claims about our costly, dangerous, and foolish diplomatic, military, and economic commitment to Israel.

And I disbelieve the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were either of them a necessary or useful response to the attacks of 9/11.

Likewise, I disbelieve the US had anything at stake sufficient to cover the costs of our participation in the two world wars.

And I disbelieve the world was actually a better place in some overall, net fashion than it would have been had we skipped them.

Neither do I believe that our actions pursuant to the Cold War were necessary or useful with regard to our own interests, nor even that the world was a better place as a result of those actions.

I believe, on the contrary, the American “rise to globalism” has been a costly waste in blood and money we would have done better to skip, beginning with the Spanish-American War if not the annexation of Hawaii.

Here, too, I am a skeptic among believers.

How long can this go on?

They say, “Romney has a 20-point advantage among white voters.”

But black voters are far more racist, thank Heavens.

“Obama is supported by 91% of black voters and 57% of other minority voters.”

What’s that?

That huge black discrepancy isn’t racism though that much smaller white discrepancy is?

Uh huh.

Conservatives/Republicans feed and appeal to white racial fears and hostilities, it’s true.

But liberals/Democrats do the same much more nakedly with regard to blacks and other non-whites, and to much greater effect among the former.

Once in a while, they even try to paint the other side as anti-Semitic.

None of this is good for the country.

But the activists and propagandists of each side will do or say pretty much anything legal and much that is not in order to win.

Liberals/Democrats think that in the long run racial polarization plays into their hands as the proportion of whites among voters steadily declines.

Some conservatives/Republicans agree, with trepidation for the future.

But this supposes it will decline far enough, fast enough to pretty much destroy conservatism and the Republican Party as we know them before global warming destroys civilization.

Maybe so.

But maybe not.