News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: July 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Monster Within III

Last year about this time and previous to that I wrote about the monster within that threatens America when soldiers return from Iraq. In my previous post, I mentioned the threat posed by racist Aryan Nation types. As this article from CBS News suggests, though, the threat also comes from inner city, established gangs.

Not only will these gangs pose a threat to those in the military but they will use the techniques and military training they have acquired to train their cohorts back in the states. I wonder whether police chiefs around the country are having nightmares about this issue yet? Or will they wake up to the issue, as America continues to do with so many issues related to this war. Read more!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I was encouraged and delighted by today's call-in program on the subject of courage on the PBS local channel. I have an unpublished journal article on Kierkegaard's concept of courage vis-a-vis Plato. (Alastair Hannay was kind enough to review a draft of the article and make a few suggestions, as was a prominent Plato scholar.)

I found the discussion on the show as a way to see what I have written in a practical (Habermas would call it a pragmatic) context. If you listen to the discussion on the program, you'll find that the last caller in the show asks a question about how to inculcate virtue--this is the gist of my own paper.

It's always difficult to synopsize articles, but I'll try. I try to show that Kierkegaard's Sickness Unto Death is an attempt to explore the concept of Christian courage. I think this is a major theme of the work, though it is not explicitly stated to be so. I take encouragement for this view from the Introduction of the book, where Kierkegaard seems to paraphrase Plato's definition of courage in the Republic.

This states that courage is knowing "what to fear and what not to fear." My own investigation of the defintion tries to show the somewhat anti-cognitivist aspects of Plato's understanding and then to move on to Kierkegaard's critique of Plato vis-a-vis faith and sin, while showing how Kierkegaard places all of this against the backdrop of modern nihilism. Kierkegaard's own anti-cognitivism comes out as a matter for the will, something that Plato still places within a rationalistic framework.

My recent studies in Tugendhat and Habermas have provided fresh material and angles to get at this subject. I will, perhaps, integrate some of this in a continuation of the paper. Read more!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Reasons Not to Vote

Besides the rather obvious remark that the system of govt we now live under is broken, I suggest that the break become even greater until it becomes so obvious that people are forced to take sides. Then they will either become violent or seek some more reasonable alternatives and solutions. As in personal growth so in politics, crisis is good for self-knowledge.

Leftists should threaten the Dems with not voting in the next round of elections unless they shift farther to the left. The demands should be as radical as possible, e.g., renouncing blanket support for Israel's policies, recognition of Iran's right to protect itself, universal healthcare, another raise in the minimum wage, etc.

Too many people are too comfy and apathetic in either their Republican anxiousness or their "sympathetic" Democratic anxiousness. We need to knock these people into the real world and see which way they fall when the shit hits the fan.

A voter strike simply echoes the majority will; that is, a majority of eleigible voters don't vote anyway. People seem to be blase about that fact. According to my crude calculations, for example, Bush received less percentage of votes than did Hitler. This might be a fact that's revisable, since I had no data on the percentage of eligible voters in Germany at the time.

The point of such research, though, is to show that we do not live in anything resembling a democracy, if that is supposed to mean where the leaders are voted in by a majority of the public.

My experience in electoral politics of the Leftist kind lends credence to the idea that even Democratic supporters--those with money and inluence--see the rabble as rabble. The kind of direction to the country believed in by these people is something akin to benevolent guidance since the rabble obviously can't even make it in real life so how can they be expected to make responsible political decisions? Read more!

The Best Recap of Terrorism in the World

Why has this woman never appeared on TV news or anyplace else of note? Is it because she's a woman, and what woman understands terrorism, right?

Anyway, this is the most succinct, knowledgeable and rational discussion and solution to the issue I have ever heard... anywhere. And that is saying a lot. (Click on the link at the MPR page to hear her speech.) Read more!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Threat From Within

There's a concise assessment of what the US faces in the near future going around the web. Much of it includes talk of the Starussian Neocons and Others. I found this very perceptive piece at a blog that that Col Lang linked to:

The GULAGs, secret prisons, suspension of habeus corpus, wiretaps, eviscerating FISA and the FISA Court, the unleashing of uncontrolled FBI powers and abusive NSLs, the fear, castrating Congress and the courts, these are all the components of — the necessary components — for literally re-creating the American version of a Counterintelligence State that Dziak diagnosed. You may laugh, but this is deadly serious and explains precisely why Cheney's people stamped TOP SECRET/SCI on Talking Points to be given to the press. And the proliferation of new “classes” of information “Sensitive but not Classified”, etc. The American CI Community and Threat Merchant Contractors have not had it this good EVER. And not surprisingly, the policies that emerged from this embryonic American Counterintelligence State also paralleled its predecessor. Not all the fault, dear Brutus, lies at AEI.

In a Counterintelligence State, the annointed few (however defined) elevate and use the intelligence and security organizations above traditional social entities and civil society. Rule of Law by necessity must be ignored. All is justified by the threat - whether of Western imperialism or alleged elite Albanian pizza delivery commandos ready to strike here. Ironically, however, by their very bellicose, furtive and aggressive nature, Counterintelligence States eventually will summon into place all the threats and more that they perceive — or at least facsimiles thereof.
It appears that the threats are real and the people of the US just sit back and simply turn a blind eye to what's happening. Why is that?

Also take a look at this promising book, Black Mass:
Gray writes a controlled, clean and unfussy prose, but here and there his anger and contempt knock flashes from the steely sheen of his reserve. He harbours a special animus towards American neoconservative theorists, the heirs of Karl Schmitt and Leo Strauss, such as Albert Wohlstetter, Irving Kristol and, Gray's favourite dunce, Francis Fukuyama, who in 1989 famously announced the end of history and the triumph of western, liberal, market-driven democracy.

These zealots, whose "thinking is a mix of crackpot realism and chiliastic fantasy" and whose "catastrophic optimism" has wrought so much mischief in the world since the end of the cold war, hold to the Straussian view that the political high consistory must proceed according to "a modern variation of Plato's noble lie: while philosophers may know the truth they also know that truth is deadly to the mass of humankind". Thus George Bush and Tony Blair, when they present false evidence to support the invasion of Iraq, are not exactly lying, merely realigning the truth in accordance with their higher aims. "For these seers," Gray writes, "victory was the same as truth - not truth of the ordinary kind, to be sure, but the esoteric truth that is concealed in the deceiving mirror of fact."

Gray's critique of the war on Iraq, and especially of Blair's part in it, is devastating. His contempt is palpable in these measured and meticulously argued pages. As usual, it is the details that snag in the mind's fabric. British security firms, he writes, are reported to have some 48,000 personnel in Iraq, "outnumbering British troops by a factor of six to one". The war has been privatised, and "the ragtag army of crooks and shysters that followed in the wake of American troops is not greatly different from that which trailed behind the colonial armies of earlier times".
Read more!

Electoral Disruptions

I am very seriously considering not voting in the next election. I find that electoral politics only continues the status quo, whomever is in power. This relates to what I believe is an ingrained power structure in the US that is comprised of insiders who may have different takes on the way power is doled out but whose assumptions about that power are basically the same.

These elites or insiders are comprised of people who believe that only technocrats can solve political issues and have the know-how to run the country. The premises of this view were first enunicated in the 20s by Walter Lippmann. Why Lippmann's honest, tell-all approach has not been taken seriously by those on the Left is one of those mysteries I have yet to figure out. Is it because your Leftist is really a Utopian and can't face the hard scrabble, hard-ball tactics of real politics?

Anyway, here's my proposal, which I floated at Kotsko's Weblog:

The problem is institutional. Except for Simone Weil and Alastair Hannay, perhaps, who has provided any type of Leftist response that is rational and realistic?

Armed rebellion is a no-go in the US. Besides, the issue here is about insiders--both Dem and Rep. How do you get rid of them? A purge?

That's why I say the left should call an electoral action by not voting in the next election. There are too many middle-of-the roaders, sitting on the sidelines, people around. You have to polarize the country.

Bush has done that and we see some cracks appearing. I say vote in Thompson and watch the cracks begin to turn into fissures. It's only when a majority begin to see the extremes that the Right is willing to go to to hold on to power that anything resembling a change in the country's direction will begin to take shape.
Bush has done one thing of service for the Left. He has polarized the country to an extent not seen since the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. These movements pressed people's ho-hum take on their lives and their priorities to the wall, such that they were forced to take a position. They couldn't sit on the fence, as many are prone to do. Read more!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Moore Goes Into Hyper-Drive vs. CNN

I saw some of Michael Moore's comments versus Wolf Blitzer. They blitzed the Blitzer right out of his safe little charmed circle. Then CNN sent in the brain-cracker Sanjay Gupta to do his hatchet job. Moore had a fair dust-up with Gupta, a very smart guy anyways, and the next morning the CNN chicken heads were clucking about a Gupta slammaramma vs. Moore.

I didn't catch the whole piece between Moore and Gupta, so I don't know who won the debate. I don't think, though, that the crowing was in any way fair. Now Moore has published something of a declaration of war vs. CNN. Also check out Moore's fact-by-fact check of CNN's story on Sicko and his rebuttal to Gupta.

It's about time that someone took on the media for not only their falsehoods and entertainment packaging of information but also their overt collusion with the Bushites in making the Iraq war a "reality." A reality, BTW, that they can milk for all the ad dollars in the world.

NB If there was ever a time when the web and blogosphere could show its muscles, it's now. I imagine that Moore could team up in some way with sites like Media Matters and shred CNN to ribbons. If you're listening take this media attack to heart and spread the word any way you can. Read more!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sex and War

I wrote about this subject a while ago and linked to several articles that had done some preliminary reporting on the subject. Debra McNutt is doing more in-depth reporting (via Psyche Science and Society)"

My ultimate purpose is doing this research is not only to help expose these crimes against women, but to help build a movement to stop them. Missing from the discussions about Iraqi women’s rights is how the U.S. occupation is creating new oppressions that destroy women’s self-worth. It is our responsibility as Americans to stop our military’s abuses of women, by ending the occupation.
If you have any information on this subject, please forward it to her.

Note on My Absence: I have no personal computer as of now. I am relying on work and other locales to get any web info. Read more!