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Thursday, April 29, 2004

The War on Religious Zealotry 

With the forces of religious zealotry bearing down on the modern world, it's time for modern humans to take a stand. In this "war," Christian fundamentalists are on the same side as Al Qaeda.

Is the threat of extinction enough to put the passion back into the modern mind?

Unfortunately, modernity is at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting "believers" because it makes no promises. The only mortal comfort it offers is an evolving participatory framework of freedom and justice--intended for the Here and Now.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies 

"Pessimists are right more often than not, and when they are wrong they are pleased to be so."
-George Will, on the pleasures of pessimism--in response to a quote from James Q. Wilson questioning whether human nature lends itself to freedom.

Shock and Awe in Iraq
By George F. Will

Aside from being an uncharacteristically optimistic assessment of pessimists, the problem with Will's maxim is that it perpetuates the myth of the impartial observer. The observer--in Will's case a pessimist columnist--is subject to an inescapable twist of logic familiar to quantum physicists and philosophers. That is, the very act of observing "reality" makes one an active participant. The fact that we can't separate ourselves from it makes it impossible for us to judge reality objectively. Our observations--especially those disseminated via mass media--undoubtedly contribute to shaping reality.

Will's pessimist is a voyeur in a vacuum that exists only as a self-serving abstraction. In the real world, pessimists actively promote competing visions. Will's competing vision, in Wilson's words, is that "...our effort to increase individual freedom is an evolutionary oddity, a weak and probably vain effort to equip people with an opportunity some do not want and many will readily sacrifice."

I'm an optimist in regard to questions about the nature and value of freedom, but I've learned to expect the worst from neoconservative philosophy. As a critic of the Bush administration's messianic "crusade" to forcefully "liberate" "brown skinned" people, I'm tempted to interpret Will's observations as criticisms of our current foreign policy. But I can't, because I know that his real intent is to frame freedom as an evolutionary oddity of questionable value.

After all, he isn't suggesting that the Bush administration made a mistake by invading Iraq. If anything, he's suggesting they drop the pretensions of liberation. Will envisions a leader for Iraq who--unlike Aleksandr Kerensky of pre-Leninist Russia--will be able to resist overthrow by dangerous extremists. The implicit suggestion is that instead of freedom, Iraq needs a strong, politically moderate dictatorship strategically aligned with the West. Is it any wonder then that the neocons are taking another look at the Baathists?

The Bush administration's failure to impose "freedom" on Iraq by force is reason enough for people like Will to begin questioning the viability of freedom itself. Rather than acknowledge the probability that its intent and execution doomed the folly in question, they prefer to issue radical challenges. Of course it's a ruse. Neocons know that freedom cannot be imposed at gunpoint, and they're well aware that it's an insult to disguise imperialist aggression as "liberation." Only the most deluded Republicans believe that we invaded Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi people. America's failure in Iraq is a failure of leadership--not of freedom.

George Will knows the truth, but something prevents him from expressing it. Perhaps it's his deeply rooted pessimism toward the nature of freedom, or, it could be his deep-rooted optimism toward the nature of neoconservative philosophy. Either way, he's not merely a casual observer, and one has to wonder if he truly would take pleasure from being proved wrong.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Other Unforgettable Day 

On this fifth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, it's worth noting that the young killers planned to climax their killing spree by hijacking an airliner and flying it into New York City.

As I watched the events unfold on 9/11, Columbine was one of the first things that came to mind. I wondered if it was an attack by right wing extremists. Now I know that 9/11 was the opening salvo in a global war between right wing extremists, pitting our Christian and "Straussian" extremists against the tyrants of the Muslim world.

Monday, April 19, 2004

"Civilization's Collective Shame" 

"We have sent the terrorists a clear and unmistakable message--you are not freedom fighters; you are murderers, civilization's collective shame."
-Tom Ridge, from his remarks (as prepared) today at the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation.

Shame usually implies guilt, but I have a feeling that he wasn't accepting responsibility for the existence of "terrorists" on civilization's behalf.

A Dangerous Indulgence 

In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Kenneth Roth makes several good points regarding the "war on terror." Here are two excerpts:

"...the 'war against terrorism' is open-ended and global, allowing the U.S. government unilaterally to designate terrorism suspects as 'enemy combatants,' at home or abroad, and to summarily detain or kill them. That radical proposition jettisons the most basic guarantees of criminal justice, leaving our liberty and our lives protected only by the government's professions of good faith."

"If the government can unilaterally declare a global war without regard to an actual battlefield, there is nothing to stop it from, say, citing the 'war' on drug trafficking--a violent enterprise that kills far more Americans than terrorism--to summarily detain or kill suspected drug dealers. And one can also imagine 'wars' on crime, 'wars' on corruption, and so on. Detaching the notion of 'war' from a traditional battlefield is easy. But it is much too dangerous to indulge."

Republican Psychosis in Patriot Drag 

The Patriot Act is an attempt to impose asymmetric justice on American citizens. It lays the groundwork for expanding the scope of the definition of "terrorism."

The neocons would have us believe that surrendering our civil rights to the government is a patriotic obligation.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants 

In science, and art to a lesser degree, new formulations are the products of a solid historical framework. Painstaking attention is paid to recording and preserving the lineage of every idea.

In politics, the historical framework is anything but solid. Politicians demonstrate that history is an inconvenience, as well as a source to plagiarize and distort. A lack of respect for history is one of the central problems of politics, and of society by extension.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

George had high hopes. 

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
- George Washington

Deliver Us from Dimwits 

The American mindset is a dynamic, idiosyncratic reality largely detached from history--world history in particular. Because of this, boneheads like Sean Hannity are able to get away with repackaging traditional liberal ideals as "conservatism," while proclaiming that liberalism is evil. The neocons learned recently that the word "liberal" is useful as an excuse for their barbarism abroad. Presumably, people like Hannity are in favor of liberalizing the world while stamping out liberalism!

Asymmetric Justice 

The "war on terror" is the West's attempt to codify asymmetric warfare as a special kind of "crime against humanity" that forfeits the protection of due process. Against "terrorists," Western leaders are free to respond like savages.

The Strategy Behind the Mistakes 

Although it appears that we arrived at this unfortunate state of affairs due to a series of hamfisted mistakes, consider for a moment the possibility that everything is going according to plan.

Years before Bush was elected, the neocons devised a comprehensive strategy designed to use America's resources to radically change the world--America included--in a relatively short period of time. The philosophy behind their foreign policy is already common knowledge, but it would be foolish to assume that there's nothing more to their strategy. We're dealing with world-class thinkers and social manipulators, who, I believe, know exactly what they're doing.

At his 4/13/4 press conference, Bush's performance as the global village's idiot was surreal. It's not every day that one gets to see a dummy "acting the part" of idiot.

The audacity of the neocon strategy makes it difficult to unravel, mostly because of the "official" cover it operates under. The legitimacy of the U.S. government--which presumably is the lynchpin of social order--is held hostage for the right to operate with impunity. No questions asked. It follows then that any effort to investigate the truth can be labeled as treason because of the implied threat posed to the stability of American society--especially during times of war. In order to fully realize the freedom to act with impunity, and because its real designs are morally indefensible, the Bush administration is effectively terrorizing the American people into compliance. George Will wrote recently about America's need to establish a "monopoly on violence" in Iraq. In America, the neocons are working hard to establish a monopoly on coercion.

Their strategy works by putting the American people beyond the point of no return, through a series of calculated "mistakes" that are seemingly more painful to correct than further exploit. In the case of Iraq, we're torn between retreating--and risk provoking a wider war in the Middle East, or continue the occupation and risk provoking a wider war in the Middle East. Either way, the neocons win. It doesn't matter to them that their reasons for invading Iraq are morally indefensible, because they're betting that in the end, they'll be the "last ones standing," and history will be theirs to write.

Only if Kerry wins the election will Americans be able to begin correcting the deliberate mistakes of the neoconservatives. Until then, we're stuck with their mad, mad, mad, mad world-bending strategy.

Log Cabin Republicans 

If Lincoln had been raised in a modern house, they could have ended up with a tacky name like "Hershey Highway" Republicans.

Off-Center 

The whole country has been pushed so far to the right that former leftists are now effectively at the center of the spectrum.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"We're changing the world." 

Apparently, it's pointless to settle for nation building when the whole world needs to be changed. At least we've been made aware now of the enormity of the task that we're being conscripted for.

Blackwater Down 

Neoconservatives bring up Mogadishu whenever they need to justify their belligerent approach to foreign policy. According to the prevailing dogma, the Clinton administration humiliated America and emboldened Al Qaeda by retreating from Somalia. Presumably, the Bush administration's "muscular" approach is intended to produce the opposite result.

Looking at the results of their strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, one is forced to conclude that it produces results similar to the "feminine" strategy favored by previous administrations--except on a much larger scale.

The recent war footage gives me the feeling that the situation will get a lot worse before it begins to improve. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration has put every American life in jeopardy.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Speaking in Tongues 

By now, most people are familiar with the tragic case of Deanna Laney, the woman from Texas who claims that God ordered her to stone her children to death. Family, friends, and acquaintances claim that Laney's mental illness never manifested itself to them. Apparently, they don't consider "speaking in tongues" to be a sign of psychological instability. It seems that "speaking in tongues" is the norm in Tyler, Texas.

This senseless tragedy is a manifestation of the insane apocalyptic "culture" that dominates the South.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Violet on Rice 

She couldn't resist repeating the incredible claim that we were attacked on 9/11 "only for who we are; no other reason." Judging her on the merit of that analysis, one has to conclude that she's not qualified for the position of National Security Advisor. She's certainly intelligent enough for the job...

Why did she repeat such a ludicrous, emotionally charged claim? To discourage the investigation of the most important question: Why were we attacked on 9/11?

I was also struck by the reason she gave for the Bush administration's failure to retaliate for the attack on the Cole. Apparently, there was no need to waste our time on "tit for tat" responses because we had more shocking and awesome plans for the Muslim world.

Iraq is the real war that allows the neocons to define the "War on Terror" as a real war. Without Iraq, their war claims would lack the necessary gravitas. We really are at war now, and it seems that the neocons are free to conflate the two "wars" with impunity, until they truly become the same war.

I think... 

Thought is the raw product of an individual's gestalt, and language is the most precise physical expression of thought.

With these words, I initiate the process of "blogging" my gestalt.

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