Thursday, October 31, 2013

As bad as the clergy?


Until the liberals pushed them aside using the power of basically dishonest courts, the priests and pastors in each state were the censors of public morals as reflected in every form of public expression.

But the liberals have not really freed us.

They have merely replaced the clergy as America's censors.

The differences we note in public expression reflect differences between the values of the American clergy and those of the American liberals.

That’s all that has happened.

You aren’t really more free.

You are just more, and less, free to express yourself in different ways.

Meet the new boss.

Not quite the same as the old boss.

But too close for comfort. 

"The end justifies the means," you say. And what justifies the end?

There is a story that a traveler in Soviet Russia remarked to a communist official something like, "Well, I see lots of broken eggs. But where is the omelet?"

What if the end proposed is altogether imaginary?

A city of the godly? 

A worker's paradise?

And, anyway, ends are a matter of personal taste.

None are compulsory - apart from actual compulsion, of course.

And it is ordinarily just such compulsion - nay, it is ordinarily violence, and even great violence, rather than any lesser evil - that is the means people who talk like that refer to.

Always the means is something widely regarded as wrong.

Come to that, not so very infrequently, so is the end.

Making Europe free of Jews, for example.

And yet that Machiavellian maxim is often cited by way of claiming the moral high ground, as one who makes a great and terrible personal sacrifice.

Humans are such evil animals.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Women are the greatest hypocrites

They rise to the height of hypocrisy when blaming - or condoning - the identical hypocrisy of others.

They are veritable geniuses of fraud.

Look at what a job they have done establishing the ridiculous reversal of the truth that prostitution is a case of men exploiting women.

The mission of every animal in God's plan.

Eat, sleep, fuck, die.

And, as for the fucking, that's only if you get to adulthood and it works out that way.

Reproduce?

Well, it's a bit chancy, that.

Also, that is nature's plan, under the same conditions and equally with no guarantees.

"Life according to nature"?

It's that.

What's it all for?

Nothing.

Why bother?

If you feel the need to ask there's probably no good answer for you.

Among atheist thinkers of the Occident, there is no agreement how to approach the question, whether a general answer is possible, whether individual answers are possible taking things case by case, or what answers might be attainable.

But the opinions are widespread that mostly it's just fear of death and baseless hope, doomed to disappointment, that keep us going.

No, not universal.

But widespread.

Every suicide is a witness against life, though if his survivors are angry that is usually not why.

They are angry because he has deserted them, abandoned them, left them alone, daunted, and discouraged, even afraid, or maybe alone to carry a burden he did not stay to help to bear, the weak, selfish bastard.

And those are the survivors who loved him.

The others are generally not angry because they never actually cared whether he lived or died.

But he is such a witness, all the same.

Greenwald vs. Cheney

Reminds me of Hitler vs. Stalin.

Must I side with either?

Not at all.

A liberal tells us how he feels about free speech. A typical liberal.


"Some ideas deserve to be debated, and others should be confronted with baseball bats."

- Benito Mussolini, 1923.

Had you, didn't I?

It wasn’t Mussolini.

BooMan said that.

Only yesterday, I think. 

Highly quotable. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

At the mercy of individual psychopaths and fools


The Framers did not intentionally put us at the mercy of lone wolf lunatics and idiots.

The senate did, with its infamously stupid rules.

But this is not that.

Graham is not a lone wolf, and this is just another facet of his party's systematic effort to break the government and obstruct all efforts of the Democrats to actually govern.

There are no Republican moderates.

They are all in on it.

Bah.

A Republican moderate is a fanatic with a yellow streak.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What is guilt?

Ask any pet owner.

Dogs feel guilt but cats don't care.

Is it that dogs have moral opinions?

Moral knowledge?

Pshaw.

But they can be cowed and cajoled and bullied, unlike cats.

Just like people.

Do people have moral knowledge?

Friday, October 25, 2013

An imaginary undertaking

Not political science, not anthropology, and not sociology, but political philosophy is an imaginary undertaking, as is normative ethics, the broader imaginary undertaking of which it is a part.

As is theology, of which religious or theocratic politics and ethics are parts.

If there is a real sense in which Nietzsche had no politics, that is only as it should be.

Certainly, an amoralist can in consistency have preferences about politics as he can about the weather.

But in no case will they be moral preferences, sensu strictu.

Nor, if he is an atheist, will his preferences be based on or reflect God's, or any god's, supposed will.

That is not to say that, apart from imaginary criticisms, preferences are immune to evaluation.

But it will not be a moral or religious evaluation.

Why, let them eat cake

Aliens, that is.

The ones who came to serve man and against whose culinary preferences we will have nothing to say, if we ourselves eat meat, as some vegetarians put it.

Forgetting no known humans dine on carnivores while abstaining from the flesh of herbivores.

No known animal at all, human or otherwise, cares much, if at all, what those he dines on dine on.

And anyway, even though we pretend to allow our conduct to be influenced, even determined, by imaginary considerations like God's will or natural justice, and sometimes think other humans truly do, these are not reasons to think aliens must.

But then, so far, they too are imaginary.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Andrew Bacevich

He is an anti-interventionist popular with the small minority among liberals and the larger minority among conservatives who do not think a "small America" foreign policy a bad thing.

And he is a conservative who has refused from the beginning to believe in Obama's sincere belief that while the Iraq war was stupid the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan were good policy.

He was and is mistaken.

All the more so if he does not understand Obama is a Wilsonian globo-do-gooder of a darker hue and a Muslim childhood.

He is totally not surprised that the grandchildren of Lithuanians want to extend American and NATO protection to Lithuania.

He claims surprise that Obama, a man with serious identity issues and a second generation Kenyan brought up in Indonesia, accepts a special mission for America to play globo-cop and make the world shape up.

I voted for him twice and remain glad he defeated both Republicans.

But everything is what it is, and is not another thing, and I have no wish to be deceived.

Obama does not share Bacevich's views, and never did.

Unnecessary laws passed by busy-body goody-goodies


Dry, Protestant America is full of beans and always was.

A minimal legal age for consuming alcohol is just culture war against Americans from Catholic or wine-drinking countries.

DUI is and ought to be illegal, though our intolerance of it nowadays is excessive. 

Drinking itself is not illegal for all ages and ought not to be for any age.

Red states stick it to their poor



Coalition crack-up?


George Will deserts the losing Republican candidate and endorses an even more losing libertarian out of ideological sympathy.

As I commented at BooMan,

The real fissure widens.

Between the Reaganite, Wall Street class warriors and the Christian theocrats.

Not between the radical, by-any-means-necessary political terrorist and the "moderates" who were not ready to ACTUALLY drive the country over a cliff, as so many conservative pundits demanded.

The very name of the conservative movement has been a lie since the dawn of the Progressive Era.

Those like Will want to destroy every vestige of American social democracy and American progressivism creating a plutocrat's paradise that never before existed in the US or elsewhere.

The Christian right wants to replace American secular government at the state and federal levels and smother American secular society with government enforcement of God's will, as determined by the Christian (mostly Protestant) clergy of America.

Neither group has any essential sympathy for the other, theirs being a mere marriage of convenience in the Republican Party and in the media images of pols like Gingrich who denounce the two things about the real America they separately hate as if they were somehow one, what America has of secularism and what it has of socialism.

And it was the Wall Street plutocrats who held the nation hostage, recently, demanding major concessions on their agenda in return for not destroying the American and world economies.

Nothing in it for the Christians but guilt by association.

Had the nitwits behind the hostage taking included some convincing goodies for the Christian right we would not be watching as THIS fissure widens, right now.

But I suppose it will all settle down and the fissure will heal, yet again, until and unless the Wall Street wing feels it can win elections without the Christians.

Or maybe not.

A second thought.

Will supported the hostage taking, as did Pat Buchanan and many other long term mouthpieces and leaders of the conservative movement.

Both in fact urged the Republicans to go ahead and drive the country off a cliff and blame Obama for it, if he refused to give in.

If, like Jim DeMint, they think all means short of naked civil war fair to advance their agenda then maybe Will has just drawn the conclusion that the Wall Street Republicans can succeed even if all they control is the House, using further and relentless attacks on the government and economy of the nation.

And he may think that means they don’t need power outside the reddest of red states.

So they can do without the ground troops of the Christian right, folks they cannot do without if they aim ever again to win the senate and/or the White House.

Hmm.

Update, November 2.

But the real plutocrats stand to lose big in any crash. 

Not all of them, no. 

Some literally on Wall Street could profit greatly. 

But most would lose heavily. 

They support the tactics of the radicals only as bluff. 

But the radicals are more like a doomsday machine for their plute masters than like cool-headed card players. 

That is what has made the threat credible. 

Realizing this, will the plutocracy support the next round of hostage taking or will they, frightened as much as us little people by this very close finish, try to undermine the conservative fanatics who made all this happen?  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pretend ethics

Peter Singer, decades back, perhaps rightly pointed out that to produce the greatest good for the greatest number nearly all of us should sweat ourselves like coolies and send the entire proceeds, minus only a pittance for bare subsistence, to Oxfam or someone to feed the world's most desperate.

But no one does that.

Singer no more than anyone else.

And yet, he blesses this choice with the name of duty.

And is showered for that with admiration and celebrity from billionaires who praise him and . . . . remain billionaires.

But then all ethics is pretend ethics.

So what the heck?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crime and divine retribution

The question has been asked for ages whether faith in cosmic or divine retribution discourages crime.

Russell and Hume thought not but Voltaire, Gibbon, Hobbes, and Rousseau felt otherwise.

And for just this reason Epicurus was labeled a practical atheist, since he held and maintained in public the indifference of the gods to all things human.

Personally, I think that in the larger view the skeptics are right and that, far from helping, religion often actually makes matters worse, encouraging its own special crimes and atrocities.

Which leads to the question whether not religious but moral faith discourages crime.

I will grant that on the face of it the amoralist may be more immoral than the moral believer, as an atheist is apt to be less pious than a religious one.

But that is not the same thing, and I think the answer to our question is that he is not more given to crime, and that the moral believer is not less so.

Voltaire, who insisted on an afterlife of divine retribution, wondered whether a society of atheists was even possible.

One might ask whether a society of amoralists is possible.

As to Voltaire's question, Hume thought faith practically unreal in any case.

He was quite confident people act as though there is no God, coerced behavior, worship, and other meaningless faking aside.

And one might surely say the same, and much more emphatically, about morality, widely recognized in all ages to be almost exclusively an affair of hypocrites and the more trusting of children.

All the same, in our time amoralists convinced of the social usefulness of morality likely far exceed atheist defenders of the like usefulness of religion.

Atheists as a group are just far enough past the age of faith to be comfortable with the idea of popular incredulity.

But the age of moral faith is still upon us, and moral disbelievers have a kind of faithlessness that still doesn't quite dare to speak its name.

A faithlessness not yet respectable even among the educated.

So far as it crosses inclination, we comply, so far as we do, with law and morals out of policy.

"Live according to the customs of the country," said the ancient skeptics.

Within reason, of course.

As measured by carrots and sticks - and our own tastes, of course, regarding carrots and sticks. 

And for most of us politics - like so much of human life - is a matter of looking out for ourselves and our near and dear.

And that's all.

None of which is to deny that some people really drink the Kool-Aid.

One-world socialism is the future


The only obstacles he saw were communism and the nation state.

Like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expected a new Jihad.

Only an idiot even wants to be subjected to a world government, ever.

Add in the increasing power, absurdity, and menace of Islam and the prospect is even less appealing.

Just another lying journo


Walter Duranty was a liar and the NYT should be ashamed.

As the play presents it, he didn’t lie out of ideological commitment or even, strictly speaking, for money.

The play seems to be torn between him lying for access (as did, allegedly, various more contemporary reporters about the regime of Saddam Hussein) or for professional esteem, success, and celebrity.

If the play was trying to say the Western press today whitewashes Islam as it whitewashed communism, back in the day, it didn’t do a very good job – and certainly not a convincing job.

As a certain segment of the left complains in chorus about lies nobody ever told anybody in high school, a certain segment of the right complains with one irate voice the press whitewashes Islam and shills for Obama, the Marxist Muslim.

Phooey.

Update, November 2.

The play recognizes the role of Jewish hatred of the Russia of pogroms in the Bolshevik revolution and the whole history of Western communism. 

A like hatred is reflected in Jewish liberalism and left-wing radicalism in America, today. 

Indeed, gay and non-white and even feminist politics reflect analogous motivations. 

Imagine how fiercely Glenn Greenwald would hate America if he were black as well as gay and Jewish. 

Not all politically important hatred is class hatred. 

Not by any means. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Inside the beltway, democracy is for suckers


Waiting to win elections and stop Obamacare with the ordinary process of passing bills is too slow to save America from destruction and tyranny.

Besides, who says they’ll win the next time out, anyway?

So we can expect more hostage situations as the Republicans repeatedly threaten to destroy the government or the economy, or anything else they can think of, to get their way.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stirner vs. Nietzsche

Compared to N, Max Stirner was far less talented a writer but he was also, in a nutshell, far less mad.

He was more consistently a frank amoralist and less - though not quite to no extent - a would-be prophet of a new morality for a new society and even a new humanity.

His egoism was not an ethical egoism.

Nor, for that matter, a rational or economic egoism.

Nor even, strictly, a psychological egoism.

It seems, in the end, he was only defending the sort of egoism to which humans are generally and spontaneously given - the sort I have before referred to as "empirical egoism."

If defending is truly what he was doing.

On the other hand, the anarchist ideal of a society without coercion is an absurd utopia.

Logically or metaphysically possible though it is alleged to be -  as the Christian philosophers say a world of humans who in complete and uncoerced freedom always choose to do right is logically or metaphysically possible - belief in it and pursuit of it are even more fantastic than the delusions S attacks.

And equally fantastic is a society without a rich elaboration of pious fraud in reciprocal support with machinery of coercion.

In truth, for normal humans no such world is possible, at all.

No more than a world in which chickens in summertime do Shakespeare in the Park is possible for normal chickens.

But maybe it would be possible for chickens from outer space.

Yes, that was a joke. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Choice is unchosen.

Sartre's conception of freedom is worse than an exaggeration; it is an error that ignores the depth of facticity.

We choose just as we stumble or fall.

Choice is not chosen; choice happens.

In truth, the scope of the unchosen in our lives, of what simply befalls us includes all conation.

Quite apart from whether logical, physical, or psychological determinism are true.

Or any other.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ah, yes. Awe and wonder.

Jesus, this crap is such crap.

Chris Stedman on CNN says that on some Oprah Winfrey thing Diana Nyad, a swimmer, told OW she is an atheist who "experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity."

Of course she does.

Can't have atheists - or maybe anyone - missing that stuff, after all.

If they did atheism would be bad.

But since they don't, maybe it's OK.

In case you missed it, mass media are for morons.

Drudge lies about Larry Flynt


But then Drudge lies about many things.

Drudge’s link to this Reporter story says this.

“Larry Flynt Opposes Death Penalty For His Shooter; Wants Torture Instead...”

Not even close.

LF argues the death penalty is a flimsy deterrent and will let the guy off way too easy, much easier than life in prison.

He says we should abolish the death penalty.

He does not say the criminal justice system should start using torture as a punishment.

Judging by the rwnm, they'll keep trying extortion, again and again

Everything I've seen on the web and in the media.

And the deal set us up for worse to come.

When the GOP loses

Nothing so enhances the power of Republican propaganda, which relies heavily on endless, meaningless bullshit about freedom, as the lies told by both major parties and virtually all the media about the role of our military today, throughout the last century, and from the day after the Civil War.

That is where the endless bullshit about freedom begins.

Apart from the Cold War, none of all that was about defending our freedom.

So far as that goes, even the Cold War was that only in the minds of people delusional enough to think the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, or North Vietnamese were ever going to invade the US.

Those would be the same buffoons who think Hitler wanted to conquer the world, along with the Kaiser.

Or anyone with a bumper sticker that says something like "Land of the free, thanks to the brave."

If you believe any of that silly drivel you're a sure thing to believe Obama is a Muslim and Obamacare is a communist plot to impose tyranny on America.

Which, by the way, is exactly what Ronald Reagan said about Medicare when LBJ proposed it and the Congress was considering it.

And Barry Goldwater, of course.

Heck.

The John Birch society thought, or said they thought, Eisenhower was a red.

The conservatives are not one whit crazier or more full of shit now than they were 50 years ago.

Just a lot more unscrupulous about the "collateral damage" they inflict to get their way.

Well, maybe not.

In large part, the Cold War was just rich people sending the children of their wage slaves to die in the defense of their property.

And in part it made their endless horror propaganda about communism seem more credible, making it easier for them to insure that of all the world's rich nations we had the least social democracy.

Cruz blames moderate Republicans


While some Republicans attempt to take credit for saving the country from a disaster that Obama was unwilling to prevent, Cruz is blaming the moderates for chickening out, insisting not that it would have been better to default but that, had the GOP been united behind the radicals of the house, "the outcome would have been very, very different."

Looks like we won.

For now.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Victory?

I'll believe it when I hear O has signed it.

But the Internet is flooded with the news of Republican collapse.

We'll see.

I don't know how you feel about it, but I think this has been a valuable lesson on the true nature of the mislabeled American conservative movement, its radicalism, its irresponsibility, and its profound hatred for the real America.

And the terrible threat posed by the possibility that it will someday again control the Congress and the presidency.

Genuine, honest to God fear of what they would do to America, to my family, and to me brought me to the polls in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

In 2004, out of disgust with Kerry, I voted for Nader.

But the conservatives have never seemed quite this radical and dangerous.

Their aims have not changed since the days of Goldwater.

But with the passing years their methods have gotten worse.

My fear of them is now at a high point.

I doubt I will ever vote for a minor party, again.

Or sit out an election.

Irrational, I know.

One vote is insignificant, meaningless, an historic and political invisibility.

But there it is.

It would be comforting to think lots of people felt the same.

But I fear America has not learned the proper lesson.

Shutdown and Debt Ceiling

At 1149 EDT people are optimistic there is some sort of deal coming that will push the next crisis into the winter with no, or no serious, concessions to the hostage takers.

Anyway, none yet.

I have the impression part of the deal, however, is an agreement to talk about spending reduction.

And that is already a concession, and an important one, when you consider they should be talking about significant tax hikes and spending increases aimed at getting people back to work.

No, the Democrats did not force the Republicans to abolish the debt limit and re-open the government for good.

The Republicans still do not accept that extortion by closing the government and threatening default along with the national and perhaps global economic disaster likely to result is not acceptable.

The plea that "they have no alternative" because, as they only control one house in a bicameral legislature and do not control the White House, they cannot get what they want by getting bills passed and made into law in the constitutionally prescribed manner, is simply not acceptable.

"We have no alternative" is no more acceptable when Republicans target America than when terrorists do it, or when people on that argument start a civil war.

And yet that very plea was made only yesterday in those very words by Pat Buchanan, and it has been made for weeks not only by the more radical Republican legislators but by their leadership in the house, many of them in the senate, and nearly all of the names big and small of the right wing noise machine.

In all these weeks of struggle, leading movement conservatives who have been around forever, since Nixon, since Reagan, and some even since Goldwater, stood solidly in support of the most radical of tea-bag Republicans in the house and the senate.

Nobody  is apologizing.

This is not the first time these faux conservatives, who are actually right wing revolutionaries who want to destroy the modestly social democratic and secularist America that has grown up in the last century, have threatened to wreck America to get their way.

It won't be the last.

Heck, as it isn't a done deal until both houses agree and the president signs on, the current episode may not even be over.

Update.

The senate was supposed to announce step 1 of the deal at noon. It's 12:08. No announcement.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A note on Heidegger

Fortunately, one doesn't really have to answer the Seinsfrage.

But one does have to answer the Sexfrage.

There's not much else that we have to do but get food, clothing, and shelter.

And die. 

Pat Buchanan, over the falls with the revolutionary right


Pat is urging them to drive off the cliff.

He is retrospectively defending the John Birch Society.

He is siding absolutely with the tea-baggers, as George Will has lately done.

Make no mistake.

The tea-baggers dominate the Republican Party because they are a pop emanation of the decades old conservative movement.

And the conservative movement dominates the Party.

Hell, there’s almost nothing else in it!

I left this comment on Pat’s piece, responding specifically to these remarks as well as the whole thing.

A piece that, by the way, dishonestly omits any mention of the varying ransom demands that have accompanied in recent weeks every Republican offer to fund government, in whole or in part.

Pat’s remarks.

Why, after all, did Republicans stand up? Because they believe Obamacare is an abomination, a new entitlement program this nation, lurching toward bankruptcy, cannot afford.

It is imposing increases in health care premiums on millions of Americans, disrupting doctor-patient relationships and forcing businesses to cut workers back to 29 hours a week. Even Democratic Sen. Max Baucus has predicted a coming "train wreck."

Now if the Republican Party believes this, what choice did the House have except to fight to defund or postpone it, against all odds, and tune out the whining of the "We-can't-win!" Republican establishment?

My response.

Wow. What choice did they have? Spoken like anyone defending terrorism.

And here we see a "conservative" of many years urging a minority in one half of one branch of government to trash both the government and the economy if it can't be an American committee of public safety.

And all this to destroy the real America, the America of modest social democracy and moderate secularism, and force on the country a phony vision of a past that never was.

You guys are no more conservatives than the Italian Fascists or the German Nazis.

You want to destroy the real America, which you hate, and replace it with a New America that no more resembles our real past than Mussolini's Italy resembled the Roman Empire.

Who’s that steely-eyed fellow still saying no?


Why, that’s Mr. Obama.

You don’t say.

A bubble of relative sanity within which people threatening to blow up America if they don’t get their way are sometimes actually called terrorists.


Um, ya.

Sure thing, buddy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Listening to Wagner, his Liebestod.

I thought for the first time in years of Mayerling.

Bolero

I really like the piece, but I liked it a lot more before some cruel fellow told me it was sex music.

Since then I haven't been able to hear it once without thinking that thought.

What, forty years ago?

Death is nothing to us. For a while.

Children do not fear death.

They know nothing about it.

They fear pain and sometimes anger, perhaps in the guise of a neighbor's dog.

But not death, the idea of which never so much as occurs to them until they see it in a dead animal or person, a pet or perhaps a relative.

But then, as soon as they get it, they are afraid. 

Though it still doesn't really prey upon them until they realize it inescapably will happen also to them.

That's sometime in adolescence, usually.

And then they acquire fear of death as a permanent feature of their human condition that barely lapses even for the most desperately suicidal.

Or so it seems.

A Long Finish

Michael Dibdin, perhaps his best book.

Of the several of his I have read so far this is the most like a real policier.

Often his cop, Aurelio Zen, just blunders around - interestingly - until the case solves itself.

Not this time.

And yet, he still doesn't get it right.

Tiresome, really.

The crackpots who control our fate, right now


People may tell you there are two Republican Parties, right now.

Pshaw.

There is one Republican Party, dominated by people with whose extortion strategies George Will, Pat Buchanan, and most other longstanding movement conservatives agree.

And they are not bluffing.

They plan NOT to flinch, and they already know what they will do if the Democrats don’t flinch and disaster ensues.

They will blame the Democrats and poison Obama’s second term with impeachment.

I fully expect the left to chicken out before the end, as they always have in the past.

Especially the overseas left that will join nearly all overseas governments in demanding Obama surrender to avoid harm to themselves and their own peoples.

They don’t care all that much, really, whether the American right destroys American social democracy.

They don’t care all that much, really, whether we in America lose Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and pretty much everything else.

So, when they realize the Republican Party isn’t going to flinch, they will change their tunes and suddenly be among those demanding most loudly that the Democrats surrender.

And that will turn the American liberals, who will also suddenly start to tell us, more in sorrow than in anger, that somebody has to be the responsible adult.

And so, once again, the poorest and most vulnerable of Democratic constituencies will have to get publicly raped by Republicans while the Democrats hold their coats.

This is their plan in case the Democrats don’t cave in


Kill all the hostages and blame the police.

Wreck the economy and blame Obama.

Interesting fact.

The extremists leading all this are in safe seats and will be fine even if, and even because, they not only threaten to smash the country but actually do.

They are true patriots, you see. 

The extremists and their voters. 

They threaten to smash the country if they don't get their way and then, when they don't, they smash it. 

That is how real Americans and true patriots behave. 

Real patriots prefer the Confederacy


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Albert Camus, political utopian

An unflagging opponent of the FLN, the status quo, and independence under exclusively pied-noir rule, he advocated for Algeria only impossible compromises few wanted or believed in.

Always in the liberal style of immense moral decency, with exclusive reliance on strictly secular notions of justice.

Reading Chroniques algeriennes, 1939 -1958.

The contrast with Sartre is striking. 

Where Camus stands for French patriotism and loyalty to French culture, Sartre is a traitor who joins the relentless propaganda of hatred of France, eurowhites, and the Occident, bitterly rejecting claims of grandeur and merit for the nation, its history, or its culture.

As is the contrast with the Stalinism of Merleau-Ponty.

Did Camus in a similarly quixotic fashion stand for the Republic in Spain?

Against the Nationalists for whom the Nazis and Italian Fascists were only allies of convenience?

Though nearly from the first day the Republic was a false flag for communists and anarchists who loathed it and did not want it to succeed?

No, no more than anyone in Algeria wanted his liberal utopianisms for that country to succeed.

It cannot be a reason if it is false

Hence one who offers us as reasons what he believes to be false is a liar at least by intention if not also in fact.

Little better if at all, and indeed sometimes worse, is one who in his own understanding offers reasons that, though valid, are defeated by better.

And then there are those who offer what they believe irrelevant, or what they think would be that if true.

We ask for bread and we are given stones.

But all's fair in love and war, eh?

And politics is just war with less violence.

What is one to do, after all, if, about to be religiously slaughtered, he sees that a lying story of God's will may help?

If, about to be punished for the most moral of reasons for a harmless episode with a consenting adult, he sees that a certain meaningless moral jabber might get him free?

Did not Bill Clinton's defenders remind us with a sort of shrug that everyone - yes, they said that, everyone - lies about sex?

And business is business, is it not?

And, anyway, what is all this nonsense about what's "fair"?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What would Columbus Day be like without denunciations of white people?

People my age already know because the racist attacks on Americans by the left did not become common until after the Vietnam War, by which time far too many people had read and taken to heart Howard Zinn.

People born after that war may find out today, since the left wing noise machine is as fixated as the right on the current Republican effort to extort important policy changes they cannot otherwise obtain by threatening to wreck the American government and the American economy.

At every previous such episode the Democrats have succumbed to pressure from frightened people and their enemies, and given in.

Doesn’t look like it’s going that way, this time.

Given the Republican demands would all do harm to me, my wife, and my entire extended family and previous concessions were contrary to our interests, it would be nice to see the Democrats show some guts.

Friday, October 11, 2013

God, if only we could get them to leave!


He thinks red state secession is a threat.

Jesus, if they withdrew they’d have to beg blue America for foreign aid.

Governor Moonbeam


He’s become a solid, old-fashioned Democrat.

I would gladly vote for him to replace our Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett.

Blind man attacked in Philadelphia on the street


There is video of the attack and passers-by, well, passing by, doing nothing to stop the attack.

Talking heads on news shows, especially girls, are deploring this.

Judging by schoolyards, it’s rather a surprise they didn’t egg him on like spectators at a boxing match.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Faux or real? Surprise or outrage?


Don’t some 40 % of Americans claim they reject evolution and accept Biblical, Young Earth Creationism?

So why the shock at the notion that American Catholics generally, and the orthodox certainly, believe in a personal devil?

Or is it shock that Scalia believes Catholics believe that?

Or is it shock that Scalia believes that?

Or is it shock that Scalia says he believes that?

I’m just not sure.

Anyway, Boo is far from alone on the left in making a public show of reacting adversely.

Scalia himself boldly and even effortlessly squashed Jennifer Senior, promptly asserting a Gingrich and Santorum propaganda point, insisting with specious anger and authority that belief in Satan is a condition of belonging to that cozy, warm, and righteous people who democratically deserve to dominate everything here at home and even around the world, main stream America.

And that anyone not comfortable with that fact or respectful of that belief clearly lives “in circles far from” that blessed and godly main stream.

Neither does he miss the chance to make the altogether fatuous defenses,  always satisfying to the stupid, "Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me [sic] have believed in the Devil."

All which raises the question whether Scalia is just another lying politician for whom protestations of religious faith are a political tool.

By the way, if you look at the positions he takes in the interview with JS, his careless inconsistency and personal faithlessness to his own professed rule of interpretation is egregious.

Whatever may be true of his religion, in jurisprudence the man is as much a faker as the most bare-faced liberal liar in the history of the Supremes, the inventor and first interpreter of the constitutional right to privacy, William O. Douglas.

And, after all, the man is an arrogant bully.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Don Juan

Byron's poem positively gallops and is really quite funny, and often not at all politically correct.

Everyone has heard of the hen-pecking blue-stockings.

But there are also quips like "Revenge in person's certainly no virtue,/But then 'tis not my fault, if others hurt you."

OK, to be fair, it wasn't just Whitman's work that killed poetry.

It was the irresistible progress of philistinism, especially as it has affected higher education.

Byron's classical allusions would escape, annoy, and irreparably alienate 90% of his potential "educated" audience, today, when ignorance of anything and everything not obviously useful in making money is actually cherished, even by the more than usually intelligent, as a sterling proof of good sense.

The cop show, then and now

Compare the 1950s film noir of Fritz Lang - or TV's Dragnet, for that matter - to the criminal brutality of police in contemporary depiction.

In While The City Sleeps, a movie of 1956, police search desperately for a serial killer who, from what we are told, would today be described as a sexual sadist.

We are shown a few minutes of them questioning a suspect they have been grilling for hours.

They never touch the man, crowd him, or seem to threaten violence.

There is no bullying, at all.

There is no profanity, and they don't even raise their voices.

He's not the guy, and when they finally trap the real killer they handle him with minimal force.

Too, we are shown a crime scene.

An actress in disheveled clothes plays dead.

No blood, not much mess, no nudity.

Police behavior in the classic, The Naked City, is much the same.

The contrast with contemporary depiction could hardly be more egregious.

Blue Bloods is one of TV's more "wholesome" cop shows and its hero, Danny Reagan, is a sociopathic brute who regularly beats people, sometimes to obtain a confession, and in nearly every episode violates someone's rights out of irrepressible rage in his never flagging refusal to work within the law.

And then there is Low Winter Sun.

Whatever this change says about our society, whatever it does to it, I suppose it can't be good.

To begin with, it makes the piece artistically worse, substituting for dramatic representation matter primarily appealing to the prurient interest - entirely appropriate for porn and sex shows - or the sadism and vicarious brutality of boxing and other fight shows.

Think of it as a rule.

Artistic representation is not the real thing, and vice versa.

Watching what is unmistakably an artistic representation for entertainment is psychologically different from watching the real thing, or even a visual recording of the real thing, and sometimes radically so.

Was that not the lesson of 8 Millimeter?

I refer both to acts of violence and to sexual acts and displays.

If there is a sort of continuum, then the more realistic the portrayal the more the experience approaches that of watching the real thing, and so the less it is an experience of art.

Hence the use of color rather than black and white is rarely an aesthetic improvement.

But in the matter of this change in the depiction of the police and their everyday work, something else is also at stake.

I refer to the public perception of the police, public expectations of them, and public expectations regarding our own treatment at the hands of the police.

Are they the guys next door, our neighbors, the decent fellows we might invite over for a Labor Day barbecue, people we and our families are safe with?

Or are they thugs and riff raff employed by the state to repress the rest of society's trash, those the state does not employ?

People you would certainly not feel comfortable having too close to yourself or your family?

And which, for that matter, do we want to be true?

Do we want our police to be law abiding, decent fellows or sociopathic brutes?

And which do our rulers want?

Sure, many of us want it both ways.

We want the cops to be savages with the savage but mild and safe as Mister Rodgers with us and our own.

But can you ever really trust an attack dog bred to rip people apart and to kill?

Are Plato's guardians, here as well, a kind of Jeckle and Hyde pipe dream?

You are being watched

BBC News says Beijing News says 2 million Chinese monitor Web activity for the government.

That's what one of the most controlling governments in the world admits to.

It will only get worse.

Libya and Somalia

The dangerous and costly bipartisan folly of the GWOT continues, though without the much greater and much more costly, exclusively neocon follies of invasion, occupation, and "nation building."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The death of poetry

Poetry in English, like God, is dead.

It was killed in America by Whitman, though that was not his intention.

Anyone with even a minor in English knows this.

Bloody shame.

Interesting that painting, too, became gravely ill, and sculpture only in lesser degree, over the same period.

Critics, museums, patrons, schools, and producers can call anything art, poetry, music, drama, or dance, in defiance of meanings settled by centuries of practice.

That doesn't make it true.

Nor even that, though different, it's just as good, or anyway somewhat good.

Audiences don't need to play along.

Saturday morning, still hanging tough


I don’t know why it’s in quotes.

OK, those were his words.

But they are descriptively correct.

Even mild, for what these guys are.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wait for it to take off


Wait for people to realize this is a story about a tragic and not especially dangerous young black woman with a small child in a car that a gaggle of white cops riddled with bullets, killing her but sparing the child only by colossal luck.

Just wait.


Sure, he says.

Update, 10052013.

Others have since said otherwise.

Oh, those liberal media!


The Republicans demand to be allowed to ktll those who will die for lack of Obamacare in return for agreeing not to kill the children whose lives that cancer research center might save.

Harry Reid has rejected that offer and continues to refuse to let them kill anyone.

CNN thinks Harry better have a damned good explanation for that.

OK, I'm not being quite accurate.

In truth, the Republicans don't actually want to kill all those people.

They want to let them die.

Exactly as the audience so notoriously demanded during the televised Republican primaries of 2008.

The fabulously rich who have vastly more than any sensible and honest person actually has any serious use for are that serious about not sharing.

Ordinary folk amuse themselves in pool halls.

The rich - the really rich - play billiards with Faberge eggs.

And in a thousand years they will play billiards with planets in uninhabited solar systems.

Or even inhabited ones.

It's not that I claim to be a whole lot more compassionate than these people.

It's that I am one of those they wish to allow to die.

I and, incidentally, the considerable majority of our fellow Americans.

So, unsurprisingly, I prefer otherwise.

And I wish more of the other Americans they propose to allow to die had the sense to prefer otherwise, as well.

Sometimes it's like trying to swim a river harnessed to a whole string of corpses, though, I must say.

On the other hand, property is active, not passive.

Ownership is an accomplishment of power, an affair of law, a matter of threats backed by force - threats that are not by any means, ever, mere bluffs.

The people the rich propose to allow to die are unable to simply take and use what they need - food, medicine, money, whatever - because a system of just such threats backed by force - laws - deprives them of it. 

Because the law, in conferring something on someone as his property, takes it from everyone else by force.

Hence it is by no means inaccurate, metaphoric, or hyperbolic to speak of the poor as "deprived," since they quite literally are, most of  them, deprived of all they lack by that very same force behind those very same threats.

And letting people die only looks like a pure omission rather than being in any sense or degree an act, though it is literally a matter, at least as for those nearby, of keeping the hungry away from food, the sick away from medicine, the needy away from money at gunpoint until they die.

Something to think about, eh? 

25% of Americans favor the shutdown and the position of the house Republican radicals. And that's not a fringe.


"Conservative" is such a misnomer for every faction of today’s "conservative coalition."

None of them are out to conserve America or its basic public institutions – by which I mean of course the “actually existing America” we grew up with and the actual institutions that have surrounded and given shape to all our lives.

All of these faux conservatives are in truth right wing revolutionaries in tri-cornered hats, claiming to want to conserve an America that has been gone for two hundred years but really out to destroy the America that is right here, right now.

The libertarians and so-called "fiscal conservatives" are right wing radicals frankly out to abolish more than a century of progress for the working class and all the non-rich of America, destroying everything from Medicare and the FDA to public education, public highways, and public fire departments.

The Christian right, what with 40% of all Americans saying they reject evolution and accept Biblical creationism, is every bit as radical.

They, too, pretend to want to conserve an America that has been gone not just since the sexual revolution but since Darwin and even, in some respects, since the end of colonial theocracy in New England.

But they are in fact cultural and political revolutionaries who reject and openly seek to overthrow a century of maturing American humanism.

With sometimes shocking candor, they want to abolish not only legal abortion but legal contraception, legal pornography, legal sex other than heterosexual and other than within a monogamous marriage, and divorce legal at all (the Catholic right) or legal for reasons other than infidelity (the Protestants).

And these two wings of the American revolutionary right, so profoundly opposed to each other ideologically, are united in practice only but very effectively in their implacable hostility to the actually existing America.

And that would be the real, contemporary, and established America so aptly described by Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich as a land of, albeit limited, secularism and socialism even as they also, and with entire success, completely mischaracterize us, its de facto conservative defenders, as the anti-American political and cultural revolutionaries they really are.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another leak in Fukushima

They may kill the whole Pacific, all by themselves.

If these clowns spilled all of it into the ocean, how far would the death cloud spread through the water?

Eventually, through all of the oceans?

Miriam Carey, Rodney King

Cops.

"That's how we were trained. Just SOP."

That will be their defense.

That and 9/11.

And America will buy it.

We have Mussolini's cops, trained and disciplined.

And we're fine with that.

Communist News Network? Liberal media? I think not.


The Republicans tee’d this up so some friendly media person would drive it.

She did.

She did not attack the GOP for offering to free just one hostage in return for a bus, an airplane, and a clean escape with all the loot.

I guess I should have said "free one hostage and kill the rest in return for . . . "

Cruz thinks the pressure is on the Democrats. Is he right?


The voters who gave C his job, and those who gave the House stalwarts their jobs, are happy as larks over the shutdown.

The voters who put the Democrats in office are gutless wusses – their flatterers will call them responsible adults, contrasting them apologetically with Republican crazies – and doubtless are already leaning on spineless Harry and Jelly Belly Obama.

Abolish the debt ceiling


Matt Y at Salon.

It’s a Republican tool whose only purpose is to enable them to do this, again, and again, and again.

Democrats need to take away the gun so the Republicans can never hold it to our heads, again.

As they otherwise will, for example, two weeks from now.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So, is he about to cave in?


Based on past experience, the man cannot be relied on to stand his ground.

Not that we have any alternative but to rely.

The people who care the most

Christian TV Host Asks God for 'Military Takeover' of Obama's Presidency

Anybody with an ounce of sense knows perfectly well that the people who concern themselves with politics more than others are not exceptionally stupid but are exceptionally dangerous and malicious and of less than normally sound mind.

The more they care the worse they are.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown is upon us

If we have any luck, the Dems will refuse to surrender.

As they have surrendered far too often in the past.