Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fear of Becoming

First off, I'm going to post a link to a short video from Arnaud Maitlin, who is more or less the official face of Kum Nye: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjQ6lZu8I

I'm doing a program called "e-Kum Nye", in which they email me a "class" with comments, notes and added instructions.  This is the 9th class introduction in the first series.  I can't now find it on their website.

But dealing with change is the point.

Anyway, he says in this video that the point of Kum Nye is dissolving duality, and I have really been trying to enter into this realm.

We are all fragmented, and the quieter I get, the more I realize I fear stillness.  I was actually doing the meditation for the 10th class, and finished thinking I needed to look up videos on UFO's, or conspiracies or something.  I wanted to refresh my fear.

This was before today's practice.  I went into this feeling, and realized that to "be" is to find and identify with our deepest emotional roots, our most primal emotions.  For the large percentage of people who were not well nurtured when young, this is going to lead to a fear of abandonment.

But it goes deeper than this.  Even for those who WERE nurtured well, there is I think generally a desire to hold on to something primal, such that was not a fear of being, per se, becomes a fear of becoming.  This fear of becoming is, as one example, at the root of all fundamentalisms.  I think Islamic fundamentalism is only particularly violent because their entire creed rests upon the ability to compel social conformity, and upon violence as a means of proselytizing.  But Baptists Fundamentalists are quite capable of the hate that blind fear gives rise to.  The history of religion is in no small measure that of competing fears, competing attachments, and competing manias arising from an inability to adapt.

Within my own world, I look back to a fear I had of the country when I was small.  What I feared was the lack of structure--really the lack of plastic.  I was raised as a typical American suburban kid, protected from most of the real problems of life.  I spent an enormous amount of time watching very insipid TV, collecting comic books, and not thinking much about anything.  My breakfast was normally coffee creamer consisting almost entirely in artificial ingredients (I was and am somewhat lactose intolerant) with Captain Crunch, or Life, or Cocoa Pebbles, or Rice Krispies with lots of sugar. 

Lunch was whatever they served at the cafeteria.  I remember in high school my favorite lunch was a fried beef and bean burrito, a Snickers and a Mountain Dew.  When I got home from school I made toast with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and turned on Gilligan's Island, or the Rockford Files.

My parents would eventually get home, but nothing real was exchanged; nothing truly nurturing for me.  I just existed.  We all had slots to fill in life, and went about it without enthusiasm.

Where in any of this is there a place to feel anchored, solid?  Is something like this not the life of millions of American kids even now?  I remember talking with a couple of skateboard kids, one of whom I had coached in soccer but not recognized because he had grown long hair.  They were complaining that none of their teachers made ANY demands on them. They were craving order, structure.  They complained that they came home and had NOTHING to do, no homework.  Their teachers were preoccupied just trying to keep order, presumably because expelling kids has been made hard to do by do-gooder assholes whose own kids go to elite private academies, like Obama and Jesse Jackson's kids.

When I look at the dominant feeling from those years it was like I had cotton in my brain.  Nothing felt real, meaningful, worth the trouble.

This in my view is the root of the angry music we see.  Kids want SOMETHING, fucking ANYTHING, to hang their hats on, to believe in.  They want something with gravity, to get away from what Kundera called the "unbearable lightness of being".  Kids, at heart, WANT to be kicked in the ass from time to time.

Precisely because life offers them nothing heavy (obviously, there is constant family drama, divorces, abusive parents and what not; but none of this truly creates anything but annoyance compared to the overarching sense that life FEELS meaningless), they become resistant to the idea of deep relaxation, of entering into deep, meditative states.  They, on the contrary, stay constantly busy, texting, playing video games, watching TV.  My oldest reports that it is common from groups of teenagers to get together and sit in a circle, texting other kids who are not there.  There is never any actual Presence, any actual being-with-others. Sex becomes a drug because it comes CLOSEST to Presence, but if any actual Presence does enter it, at least one partner is bound to run, usually the boy.

And this drives people mad.

I keep threatening to do a series of posts on Propaganda.  In some measure what has stopped me is laziness--I will need to type large sections of a fairly recondite book.  What also gets in my way, though, is the emotional burden of recognizing just how far what Jacques Ellul calls Integration Propagandas have progressed, such that substantially all the gravitas of a truly Liberal tradition has been sapped in favor of the intellectual equivalent of Kool-Aid.

Yes, of course there is the Jim Jones metaphor.  But consider further why they were there.  He founded a church based upon the idea of people being isolated, lonely, directionless monads.  He promised them an end to their freedom, an end to their lonely need to make their own decisions, and the overwhelming bulk of them followed him to their literal deaths.

Obama's core followers are no different.  He has rescued them from freedom, and they have not forgotten it.

And to be clear, obviously any conformist group demands as a condition of membership certain behavioral standards.  If you want to be in a Frat, you need to do certain things.  If you want to be a member of Christian congregation, you need to do certain things.

What I would submit, though, is that for a cult the principle element is membership itself.  Cults protect from the fear of becoming because, in absolute subjugation to an external authority, you are not really becoming at all.  The fundamental of doing what you are told never changes, even if one week you are told to support X and the next to oppose it. 

Voluntary associations, on the other hand, rely upon principles.  You come together because you believe certain things, which within certain ranges are non-negotiable.  Jews are not Christians, or vice versa.  There is room for both, but they are not the same.

That will have to do for now.  I needed to vent a bit.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ecologism is anti-Humanism

 Posted here: http://chronicle.com/article/Against-Environmental-Panic/139733/


The salient reality, to my mind, is that Western thought has failed to provide our most intelligent and most educated with a functioning meaning system.  Life must contain some pain, but we have been taught the contrary: that somehow through social engineering we can end the difficulties of life.  This clearly has not worked.  Pain remains.  What a meaning system does is justify pain, and what this brand of anti-humanism does is rationalize self abnegation.

But the massive and ineluctable defect in this worldview is that it depends entirely on a manufactured reality.  Global warming is not real.  We are not running out of resources.  Capitalism works, and uses the price signal to ration scarce resources.  The mass starvation that Ehrlich and others predicted has only materialized in nations which were unfortunate enough to become subject to utopians: Ethiopia, as one obvious example.

From within my own reality, your piece is eminently reasonable, but I suspect required some courage within the world where you exist, and I commend you for writing it.  I particularly liked this phrase: "To sound the alarm is to re-enchant the routine under the sign of danger."

Reenchantment: is this not what people really want?  Their war is purely abstract, unemotional (outside of primal emotions like self righteousness and panic), but waged in the name of what we are all called on to value by our Romantic heritage.  In theory, they can value a vision of the ocean or the moon, even if their daily dose of hatred biases them against it.

What I would submit the world ACTUALLY needs is better ideas, and better praxis.  I offer many ideas of the sort I (of course) believe helpful here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com

With regard to praxis, in my own experience, the daily practice of actually feeling emotions, touching them, expanding them, and liberating very pleasant experiences is quite useful.  The system which has worked best for me is Kum Nye.  Dharma Publishing has something called e-Kum Nye I recommend every chance I get.

I also think anyone who is trying to get in touch with wildness ought to look into Stan Grof's Holotropic Breathwork, at holotropic.com .

I have watched people twist and turn, stuck like impaled bugs on the needles of bad ideas, for many years now.  I try daily to develop alternatives.  Our very real, very pressing problem is that many have abandoned the hope of finding a good reason for existence.  That is the true secret of anti-Humanism, aka in its current iteration Ecologism.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Small glimpses of daylight

 The Telegraph in Britain is at least asking the question as to whether or not something radical is needed to fix our economic problems.  My answer, of course, is YES.  This was posted in response to this article.

 Here is the reality: most industrialized nations are on the path to bankruptcy.  Here in the United States, at any rate, we cannot possibly hope to pay all our bills over the long haul without draconian measures that could only get through Congress once a crisis is already upon us.  This is problem one.

More fundamentally, though, we must grasp that MONEY CREATION IS THEFT.  The problem is not just that it enables boom and bust cycles, but rather that banks--uniquely--create nothing of intrinsic value.  They create claims on the wealth of others from scratch.  This is why we read global banks have some $32 trillion in cash reserves.  All that wealth, if it had stayed in the hands of producers, would have gone to generalize prosperity.  Instead, we have seen its steady concentration.

How is it, many of you have surely asked, that in an age when productivity is through the roof, that we have to work harder and harder to achieve standards of living scarcely better than those of our grandparents, who for their part typically owned their homes by age 50 or so, who set aside a retirement, and who paid cash for their cars?

The answer is that we have adopted a fundamentally flawed paradigm.  We ASSUME that money will automatically lose some portion of its value every year through inflation.  What we are failing to grasp--because very few see what SHOULD be happening, but isn't--is that money should be INCREASING in value.  The value of our labor should be going up steadily.  It should be getting easier and easier to pay for everything.  There should be no poverty, and no unemployment.

You are quite right that the fix will need to be radical, and the proposals as I understand them both of the Chicago plan and Positive Money fail to go far enough both in eradicating existing debt, and in eradicating the power of money creation.

My own plan, which follows a more in-depth treatment of the issues just discussed, is here.  I call it a "Blueprint for a Capitalist Revolution": http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Great Gatsby, Shawn Knowles-Carter, and the Lollards

I reference perceptual motion as a principal principle within my own ethical system.  One of the basic metaphors is moving along a continuum, for example between the abstract and the concrete, or between the logical and the emotional.

There is also a continuum between linear thinking, and non-linear thinking.  Both can in large measure be abstract, but characterized in the first case by a smooth, clearly intelligible movement, and in the latter case better seen, perhaps, as a series of glimpses into some as-yet unnamed, larger, hidden truth.

I watched the newest Great Gatsby last weekend.  I read the book many years ago, and saw the Robert Redford version, made some time back in the 70's.  Given several decades of what I hope has been emotional growth, my impressions were quite different this time.

It is quite easy to take Nick Carraway at his word, to occupy his world, one in which Gatsby's fidelity somehow shines like a beacon in a world befogged by naked greed and self interest and dishonesty.

This is, however, a mistake in my view.  This is what I now see as interesting about this book.  We are given a perspective that is skewed, one which the author himself likely did not agree with.  We are tacitly invited to see with our own eyes, if we so choose: to see behind the lies he has very intentionally planted.

Consider Carraway's first meeting with Gatsby (real name Gatz).  Gatsby smiles on his account like he is the only person in the world who will ever understand him (or something like that). He gives him hope.  But we know that his interest in Carroway was as a means of getting to Daisy.  He was, even then, purely self interested.

We know that the stories he tells Carroway in his car on the way to the speakeasy are lies.  He did not really attend Oxford, did not really come from old money, and we have to seriously question his alleged battle prowess.  It is more than likely that he bought the meager award--from Montenegro, if memory serves--that he shows Carroway.

We know that "Old Sport" is an affectation, one delivered with the studied care of an actor, and completely insincere.  Nothing about Gatsby is real.

And we need to factor in as well who Nick is: an aspiring writer who has abandoned his own dreams for the dull world of bond trading.  He is someone who is unrooted, alone, and open to any and all sorts of influence by anyone who appears to have figured life out.

On Carraway's account, Gatsby somehow thought that his patron's family had "cheated" him out of his inheritance, the claim to which he could only make as a result of having served as a shipmate for the man whose fortune it was.

And we find out that he is a gangster, hanging out with at least one man who wears a human molar--presumably extracted without anesthetic from an unwilling victim--as a prize and a warning.

When Gatsby loses his affected calm with Daisy's husband, they all see that he is quite capable of murder.  Given his chosen livelihood, and his service in WW1, there is then no reason to think he has not in fact killed people.  We see at one point also his anger while in the mansion with Daisy and Nick, both of whom fail to extract the hidden knowledge then offered them.

We are told that Gatsby moved into his mansion, and threw his parties, just for Daisy.  But when she asks him to run away with her--abandoning, by the way, her daughter--he says no. Why?  If she was the point, then this should have thrilled him to no end.  He could have liquidated his holdings somehow, and they could have lived well.

Why does he refuse?  Simple: she was only PART of the plan.  The plan was to be God.  The plan was to rise to the stratosphere through lies and corruption, theft, and violence.  This is the part Carroway misses, although all the evidence is in front of him.

Daisy, as he notes, was an unexpected distraction.  So he decides to kill multiple birds with one stone.  He throws the parties in large measure to emphasize his own importance. Yes, he does have feelings for Daisy, but only to the extent that he has not yet checked her off his list.

And we need to be clear that he was almost certainly her first sexual partner.  All women from what I can tell will always have special feelings for that man, if he treats her well.

But what does Gatsby do when he leaves her to go to war?  He more or less abandons her.  She has no idea if he is alive or dead, because he doesn't write to her.  Understandably, she loses hope, then takes up a good offer from a rich, well respected man.  When he does write it, it is after such an interval that he should have known that she may well have moved on.  He wounds her with the letter, then abandons her again for a number of years.

And as we find in the hotel in Manhattan, she has in fact experienced feelings of love for her polo player.  Her principle objection to him is his womanizing.

Gatsby refuses to accept her diluted professions of love, though.  His vanity compels him to demand of her that she tell Tom to his face that she NEVER loved him.  As she says, this is too much.  And it is too much.  Gatsby is already in the process of becoming a very controlling lover, of the sort that gangsters, I assume, normally are. They simply take what works at "work" and bring it home.  Everything and everyone in its place is the goal.  And who determines that place?  He does.  Redoing the landscaping is just the start.  Yes, he tells her she can have what she wants, but is that not how such relationships always start?

The truth of the matter is that despite his cheating, Daisy is almost certainly going to be happier in the long run with her husband.  It is interesting in the hotel room that-despite the fact that he clearly is a bully in some ways--Tom is the one who keeps his cool, and Gatz is the who loses it.  In that oneupsmanship contest, Tom wins.

Tom's philandering is wrong, but it is Gatz who lives by the sword--in reality--and who dies by the sword.  It is Gatz who engineers the entire situation in which Tom's lover is killed.  He asked too much of Daisy, and in my view did so as an element in his social climbing.  He wanted to best someone who considered himself his social superior to his face, and Daisy was just a pawn in this scheme.

We are supposed to view this novel as a critique in some respects of the "American Dream", but in my view the American Dream is oriented around middle class living, solid moral values, sobriety, loyalty, and family.  None of these are on display.  You can't take a distorted picture of one aspect of a large society, and use it to condemn in broad stroke the entirety of that society (although of course this is done daily in our allegedly best schools, most of which would be shut down if the same analytical rigor and concern with concrete outcomes were used in the Humanities as characterizes most sciences).

There can be little doubt that Daisy felt a profusion of emotions: guilt at killing Myrtle, guilt at abandoning Gatz, but also relief at having avoided abandoning everything only to become embroiled with a gangster whose entire life is a lie.  Can we doubt that he lied to her when he seduced her in Louisville about who he really was?  As we were told, the uniforms acted both as equalizers and as social camouflage.  We can, I think, feel quite certain he did not tell her he had abandoned a poor family in the northern plains.

There is, however, interesting social commentary about TODAY in this movie.  Why did Jay-Z become the Executive Producer (in my understanding, this amounts to "financial backer") for this movie?

What I would assume is that he saw this movie very differently.  His own path to stardom also went through a very sordid period, when he sold drugs to start his career. In some respects, this is not fundamentally worse than the ways in which many prominent families gained their own wealth. Joe Kennedy, as one obvious example, was more or less a gangster, and even if you go back to the English aristocracy, most of them if you go back far enough can trace back to someone who seized power through violence.

James Gatz became Jay Gatsby, and Shawn Knowles-Carter became Jay-Z.  The latter must see in this story a tragedy of a different sort: someone like him came very close to realizing his dream, but had it taken from him by an abusive racist. He had the dream, and the drive, but rich white people lied and cheated him out of it, and never had the decency even to look back.

And what of the parties?  I was told I had to see this movie to see Baz Luhrman's over the top parties.  Within the world of Jay-Z, are parties like this not the acme of having "made it"?  Are there not dominant currents within America even today which view the lifestyles of the rich and famous as somehow models to aspire to?

We have to understand that the decision to seek power and money by any means necessary almost inevitably means casting aside what might be--and frankly are, by my ideological enemies--called "bourgeois" values.

Why were Jay-Z and Beyonce (who I now cannot see as anything but a very attractive and talented slut) so comfortable in Cuba?  Why did they go there in the first place?  Because they don't reject the life of Tom and Daisy Buchanon in principle: they merely think that THEY and theirs should be in their place.  Cuban Communists have done nothing but recreate a feudal system in which the common people have no legal rights, and their social superiors have the power of life and death over them.

In this, they take what they no doubt call the logic of Capitalism FAR beyond anything that has ever been created in America or any other nation which has attained a high standard of living through free markets and a functioning system of property rights.  Their entire project--and here I intend that of Obama and his minions, with Knowles-Carter merely being a supporter and member--is retrograde.  It is intended not to further social justice, or increase the meaningful protection of human rights.  Like the project of Gatz, their goal is to punish the successful, and take their places.

The French--who despite their many failings I will grant the ability to turn a phrase--say that "the more things change, the more they stay the same".  They know this, because they have been attempting utopian projects since at least 1789, and none of them have lived up to their alleged potential.  And even before that, there had been many revolts, many changes in the monarchy, many ideas, many dreams crushed.

We live, today, in a world in which two pop stars were granted--directly or indirectly by the President himself--a vision of a future beyond freedom and dignity.  And they liked it.  Jay-Z's capacity for the exercise of reason is exactly what one would expect, and filled with hatred:

You're an idiot, baby, you should become a student
Oh, you gonna learn today
Where the fuck have you been
The world's under new management

As Pitbull put it, and I'm paraphrasing: don't forget where you came from, and that half of both our families dropped bricks. It's the freedom that we rhyme for. It's the freedom that we die for.

What do drug dealers do?  They contribute to the on-going subjugation of their people in order that they, the few, can rise.  In Pitbull's case he remembers this.  In Jay-Z's case, he wants to pretend that he has somehow earned his position.  He has not.  He hooked up with a man every bit as dirty as he is.  That is all he has done.

Which brings me to the Lollards.  Did you know that in 14th Century England reading the Bible in English was a capital crime?  That it was heresy?  That the principle constituent of a wide-spread illegal movement was the secret and very dangerous reading of the Bible in the vernacular? 

Can anyone really say that Obama's efforts to control the press--and to suppress by any means necessary the revelation of illegal orders that he has given those under him--is really that different than the efforts of the medieval Catholic Church to suppress dissent?  He can't burn people at the stake, but he can and has ended careers.

Those in power always want only those narratives in the public domain which support the continuation of their own power.  As Voltaire apparently put it: if you want to know who holds the power, simply look at who you are not allowed to criticize.  That is why our own system was so revolutionary, so different from anything attempted in human history.

We protect dissent BY LAW.  We protect the right to effective self defense against government overreach BY LAW.  We put into place all sorts of protections against EXACTLY those abuses that had characterized all systems before them.  Why does the  Fifth Amendment exist?  Simple: it was very common for most of history to extract confessions by torture.  If no person can be made to implicate themselves, then that sort of coercion cannot be used.

Why does the Fourth Amendment exist?  Because any government that can go anywhere and do anything it wants is BY THAT FACT ALONE abusive.  The extent of the abuse--which by the way has grown considerable--is not the issue.  That power, once granted, will grow by leaps and bounds.  It is in the nature of power to want to consolidate and expand it.

Obama is not unique in any way.  He is fully congruent with any number of other power mongers which litter the pages of history.  What is unique in modern American history is the extent to which he has more or less openly corrupted the spirit and letter of the laws that had people like him in mind.  Obama is the reason for our Constitution.  That is why he hates it so much, and hates those who read it, and value it.

Every day we look more and more like Obama needs some tin medals on his chest, and some parades. . .

The inescapable fact is that Obama is running this country like a Banana Republic, where loyalty is rewarded, and honesty--when it disagrees with or points out patent corruption--is punished.  FDR did things like this, but there was no alternative media back then.  Now, there is no excuse for these things not be shouted from the rooftops.

In this article, a former Inspector General details being fired for not laying down by ignoring a clear case of the abuse of public funds, within the context of trying to determine why the IRS IG failed to even start to do his job, much less complete the work. 

Since the IG is effectively tasked with rooting out fraud and abuse, it is very significant that Obama has not replaced IG's who left for whatever reason in many of his most important departments, including State, Interior, Homeland Security, and Labor.

Here is his testimony about the loss of his job:

"That reality was made apparent to me — and, through what happened to me, to all IGs — when I supported my staff of longtime dedicated civil servants, who had recommended taking action against one Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player who had misused, for personal purposes, about $750,000 of an AmeriCorps grant intended for underprivileged young people. What I did not then know was that he was a friend and supporter of President Obama — a fact that caused the proverbial you-know-what to hit the fan.

Without detailing all that happened, the bottom line was that I started to receive pressure to drop the case against Mr. Johnson. When I declined to repudiate my staff’s work, the guillotine fell: I was summarily telephoned that if I did not resign in one hour, I would be fired. And I was, along with my special assistant, John Park. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote of my firing: “The evidence suggests that [President Obama’s] White House fired a public official who refused to roll over to protect a Presidential crony.”" 

From here: 
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/350911/why-irs-ig-stopped-audit-gerald-walpin

Principle, what I meant to say

I start typing with points I want to make, then decide I need to be thorough, then sometimes forget what the point was.  For reasons I won't get into here--but perhaps have somewhere else on this blog--I call this the "Treasure of Santa Vittoria" Syndrome. This is a very common failing among thought workers.  Our structures do not collapse of their own weight when we fail: what happens is they are built in the real world, they fail there, and new thought structures are built to rationalize the failure of the old ones.  In all Communist regimes you find blame placed on saboteurs, and unidentified dissidents.  You find everything blamed but the actual system and those running it.

This is, of course, only a PERSISTENT failing in people who are motivated by vanity and not a sincere concern for the real world, which is to say actually existing people.  Anyone who claims to value idealism over efficacy is either a novice, or a self absorbed asshole.

My point: our system depends on hundreds of millions of people interacting with their fellow Americans with honesty and integrity.  Northern Europe "works" because people are on balance honest.  South America does not "work", on balance, because people are NOT honest.  Had countless people not tried to get something for nothing--or power by promising something for nothing--their economic progress would have been vastly greater.

Mexico could be just as wealthy as the United States.  They lack a culture, however, in which fidelity to principle is valued over fidelity to family and personal self-aggrandisement.  That is why the losers in their zero sum system come here, if they can.

The IRS consists, one hopes, in largely honest people. It has consisted, over the last 3 years at least, in a few people eager to do Obama's political dirty work, and many who perhaps did it with a vague sense of nausea, and perhaps some who left because they were unable to do it at all.  Some, of course, either knew nothing about it, or were able to unsee in their memories what they had in fact seen, but not participated in.

Everywhere ones sees both rumors and evidence of efforts to fundamentally redirect our government agencies from positions of being non-partisan professionals, to being antagonistic to Obama's political enemies, who to be clear include everyone who values American history, values, and our Constitution.

Will this work?  Are there enough principled people to either block illegal activities outright, or at least bring them into the public sphere for discussion and--when warranted--prosecution.

Part of our present problem is that whistle-blowing goes for investigation to Eric Holder.  This is quite clearly unacceptable if our goal is any kind of truth.  Holder took a month to get the FBI to Benghazi.  Holder more or less gave Mexican drug cartels weapons that gunshop owners did not want to sell them, seemingly to increase violence sufficiently to make gun control easier. 

Even now, Holder has seemingly told the FBI to more or less ignore the IRS abuses.

This should be obvious enough, but if you want people to stick their necks out to report orders they are being given which are patently illegal, but which come from the President, you need to protect them.  We can't protect them if the people investigating the abuses are complicit in them.

What would have been the effect of a Converso reporting graft in his diocese to the local archbishop?  Likely a trip to the Inquisition, and being burnt at the stake.  This is not fair, but it is history.  It has happened more times than can possibly be calculated.

Congress needs an Independent Counsel, or whatever the legal equivalent is now.  What Obama is accused of--and to all appearances thoroughly guilty of--extends so far beyond what Clinton was ever accused of that to NOT appoint some pathway around Eric Holder would constitute a GROSS dereliction of duty on the part of Congress. 

Kenneth Star was appointed, allegedly, to investigate illegal real estate dealings that had happened long before the Clinton's took office.  There was NEVER any indication that Clinton had abused his power while in office (although one did see the same accusations of the use of the IRS to target some specific individuals), and like most I viewed the Star Tribunal as little more than a partisan witch hunt.

The case of Obama is quite different.  Has he provided the Syrian Islamists with chemical weapons and training?  Was he complicit in the kidnapping of Christopher Stevens?  Why should Holder not be prosecuted for Fast and Furious?  Has Obama made political use of NSA wire-taps?  How far up does the IRS abuse go, and when are arrests going to be made?  Why shouldn't the NSA chief face perjury charges for claiming that the NSA was selective in its information gathering?

These are just a small selection of questions that in a sane Republic would be pushed until they pinned somebody to the wall.  Our system is complex, and it depends entirely for its efficacy upon trusting one another.  Obama quite clearly has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt he cannot be trusted.  Neither can most of our media.  Neither, at this point, can our Congress as a whole.

Our system is failing.  There is no necessity for this.  What is needed is what I am going to call a "Retesticulation".  Our so-called leaders need to find their balls and start taking risks based on PRINCIPLE.

Who among our children is going to listen sympathetically to some old politician talking about "political necessity" when their legacy is abject failure, and the cessation of our freedom?

Bottom line: in my view, the talk should not be of Impeachment, but of first getting to the bottom of Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the efforts to intimidate journalists, and of figuring out how to stop the NSA abuses.  Congress can and should lead in this.  They need to start with a permanent person or institution empowered by law to demand information and--if blocked--to arrest anyone and everyone involved, up to and including the President and Vice Presidents themselves.

Our President is not above the law.  We do not elect kings.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Principle

I'm going to post on the Great Gatsby, but felt I should say something about all the revelations we have seen recently about how the Obama Administration chooses to do business.

First, we need to be clear that the NSA's surveillance programs exceed those that were POSSIBLE in the old Soviet Union, but are quite similar in their ambition.  Yes, we can in theory track everything, keep it sealed until we need to investigate something, get an actual court order to, say, unseal something that happened 7 years ago.  But what prevents abuse?  Who watches the watchers?  If the IRS can be abused for political purposes, why could not the Chief Executive of the Executive Branch not find or seed coconspirators--perhaps with the help of a measly few hundred billion from Wall Street--who would dish up dirt on anyone?  Why could they not blackmail Congresspeople?  Senators?  Generals?

Who was tapping Petraeus' emails?  Who released that data?  It was no friend of his, and his sexual transgressions were not important to anyone until he became a political liability.  Do you honestly think that a high percentage of our power elite are not doing things on the side that could be hung around their necks by unscrupulous power-mongers?  They were in the Soviet Union, no?  They corrupted some of our Generals there: why not here?

Police have to get a court order to tap a phone.  The NSA is tapping that phone by default.

And we are seeing this ridiculous argument that "those who have done no wrong have nothing to fear".  This was of course a common totalitarian theme, for both the Nazis and the Communists.  But I think of it in the Harry Potter movies, after the Ministry of Magic has fallen, and the Inquisition begins.

In a totalitarian regime, to be accused is to be guilty.  And plainly in a world which demands ideological conformity, "doing wrong" can be as simple as having an opinion other than that demanded by the power elite.

I just listened to a lecture on the Spanish Inquisition.  Did you know that many Jews, in times of violent pogroms, were given the choice of converting to Christianity or dying in the 1300's, and early 1400's, and that not unreasonably many chose life?  The Inquisition arose around doubts that they were universally sincere in their conversions, which were made at the point of knife.

In many respects, Dostoevsky was quite right that the human need for certainty, and a following freedom from freedom, has always been with us.  The Communists were really no different than medieval Catholics, who also demanded utter and complete conformity to creeds and people who were quite corrupt.

Oh, I'm tired and rambling, but will end with this: all our problems begin with bad thinking.  Bad thinking in turn begins with emotional incompletion: with an inability to find peace, to make meaningful and lasting connection with others, and to rest outside of dogma.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Krugman response

Here. I will add that it is worth truly asking how awful one has to be as a human being to want to reinstate either Soviet/Cuban style totalitarianism, or Chinese style Fascism.  It is evil.  Krugman is at least a narcissist, and quite possibly, as a result of horrifically bad ideas and his congenital cowardice, a functional sociopath.  It is most likely he has simply developed a talent for lying to himself that he finds very congenial, since his ego is quite large.

The situation is excruciatingly simple: you are an incompetent or vile economist, and people have been listening to you.  Incompetent, if you believe the task is to spur something other than PRIVATE investment, which is the only path to hiring and economic recovery.

Vile, if your actual goal--as has seemed clear to me for some years, since you can't possibly be as stupid as you pretend--is to use the winning Keynesian formula for its intended purpose: installing clinical Fascism in dribs and drabs such that most people do not grasp the extent of the control the power elite is increasingly exercising over their lives.

Yes, we have a new normal, and will until we get a fiscal conservative in the White House, and a Congress capable of basic math, and the most elementary capacity to grasp the consequences of the current plan to borrow trillions of dollars every year FOREVER.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Science

Posted elsewhere, thought I would share here: 

One stills sees bad thinking formatted in forms like "Science believes", or "Such and such is incompatible with science."  We need to be clear that science is a method of inquiry based upon opening ones perceptual apparatus as fully as possible so as to take in as much empirical data as possible prior to making ANY claims about the nature or function of anything, and regularly seeking out new data in a constant quest to refine and when necessary to discard without emotion models which cease being the best available.  Evidence is always primary, and interpretation secondary.  If it can be measured, it is within the domain of science. 

No "scientific" belief which does not account for all available evidence is scientific.  This is an absolute fact, since it depends upon the very DEFINITION of science; and to the extent we have privileged the scientific method as a primary source of information about the physical nature and structure of the world, we have progressed in our understandings.  Our current failing--common throughout most of the elites serving as gate-keepers at our allegedly best universities--is a prevalence of belief that does not take into account, and hence does not account for, all available evidence. 

All of this is a long way of saying this is a good reference link, summarizing good work published in peer reviewed journals which calls into question all ontologies rooted in dogmatic materialism.  http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm

Sandy Hook

Already yesterday's news, but it still seems like there are unanswered questions, and at that important ones.  For example, how did everyone get the murder weapon so wrong when it would have been laying next to him? What the fuck was the deal with that father who was laughing then put on his sad face?  It clearly happened because we have it on tape.

On one of my old posts, someone just suggested that the movie Rampage may have served as a prototype.  This has caused me to realize that NOT ONE PERSON saw Adam Lanza shooting who remained alive to tell about it.  We don't have one eyewitness account.  No one was there when his mother was shot, and his computer destroyed.  He left no note.

Isn't this odd?  As I have said, over the years we have had enough mass shootings to get a rough idea of what the pattern is.  This one does not fit any pattern I have seen. The Batman shooting, sure.  Even the ambush in what I think was upstate New York, sure. 

On this one, though, they stopped coverage long before the many loose ends were tied up, and it remains in any event open why there would be ANY questions is what should be a pretty straightforward case.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Identity

I was thinking of a certain person I know who has reached a degree of success in his life where he can choose his lifestyle.  He has done so, and looking at him in my mind, I see this calm, smug satisfaction that he chosen the perfect life, that reason and science would dictate that what he does is what is optimal, within small variations.

There is this calm in that attitude, and frankly I envy it a bit.  Everything is clear. There are few if any ambiguities.  The pains of confusion are gone, not present.  Life is a simple matter.

It seems to me we all want to live this way, and for my part I wish him well.  It is just that I can see myself traveling from place to place and group to group, seeing again and again and again an absolute certainty about how to live, and what to do, but each group disagreeing on many points, large and small.

I think we naturally seek certainty as a shelter from the wind.  It truly is a resting place in a restless world.  We seek both absolute truths, and to derive from them absolute duties and identities.  It is no wonder that Plato sought the unchanging in his highly chaotic world, and that Aristotle put it down in writing, or tried to.

But our shelters are also our cages.  As any long time readers I have may know, I am more or less a Buddhist.  What the Buddha wanted from us was movement in a concrete direction, AWAY from  a static self.  He wanted to break us all into small pieces.  I wrote in my journal the other day that that was the reason he posited--at least in my understanding--that both time and space are discontinuous.  They consist in pieces he called dharmas.  It is far easier to break things--or take them apart, if you will-- if they are not in one piece to begin with.

And it is interesting that he used this word.  I don't know the history, but is the Buddhadharma itself not a piece, a broken shard, of some truth beyond words, beyond form?  Did it not fall from somewhere, after being condemned to specificity?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Saw 2

As I believe I've mentioned, I've decided to work my way through the 7 Saw movies, as a result of reading the book Movie Yoga, and becoming interested in exploring my own resistance to horror movies.

I have a few comments, which assume you are familiar with the plot.

First, even though John/Jigsaw what's-his-name comes across, now, as at least intelligible, he is still a sociopath.  One can reasonably ask if he valued every moment of his life before he got cancer, and of course the answer would have been no.  He did, after all, try to kill himself. Being possessed of the narcissism that afflicts all sociopaths, though, he now expects the world to view itself through his eyes, and he also sees no reason to differentiate his own pending death with those he callously--gleefully--inflicts on others.

Yet, as I said with regard to the last one, this is a drama, acted out on screen.  No one actually dies.  The point of the movie is not any of the characters, but the cumulative effect on we the viewers.  And this movie did actually cause me to look more carefully at my own respect for life, and how valuable the freedom, time, and health I have been given actually is.

Emotionally, I am realizing--as I have seen in some dreams over the last few days I am not going to share--that in my own life even though I have explored evil and darkness with some care, I have not truly CONFRONTED it where it matters.  I think we often find ourselves toying with ideas which skirt real issues.  They are close enough to feel we are doing something, but far enough away to avoid active pain.

I am going to make a broad statement: the OVERWHELMING amount of evil in the world is hidden.  It is latent in human interactions, and largely consists in life not lived, affection not granted, attention not given, ideas not conjured, positive experiences rejected.

Most evil is not living, then taking it out on others passively.  This sort of malignancy is hard to see.

There are so many confused people out there, who have emotional problems, who can't make things work, but who can't see why.  Evil, that is why.

I have often invoked the NLP notion of "channels".  All human communication consists in multiple channels.  There is what you say, obviously.  There is the way you say it--tone, body language.  There is the TIMING of when you say it.  There is what you DON'T say.

In communications I am terming evil, there is a disconnect between words and actions, between what is said, and what is actually being felt and meant by the communicator.

Jigsaw got a big grin on his face when he said "there will be blood".  But he spent the rest of the time more or less trying to act like a humanitarian, trying to convince Det. Matthews that he was somehow morally superior because he gave people choices, because Matthews himself has often been a dirty cop.

And I don't doubt that many viewers of this series picked up the words, but missed the creepy bloodlust, pursued clearly in no small measure for its own sake.

It is so hard to see what is in front of you.  I expend so much effort every day, and unquestionably fall far short every day.

Political solution to the Greek error

Localism.  Countless location iterations of "that", framed within the context of very general but absolute human rights.  This is the true point of Liberalism, which is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more interesting intellectually than the entirety of Marxist and following dogma piled high.

I honestly don't get why intellectuals are drawn to the left wing.  Actually, that's not true.  They are drawn, not because of the integrity, coherence, and vitality of the ideas--the right has a monopoly those--but rather because there they are RELEVANT.  Intellectuals of the right exist solely to protect the freedom of non-intellectuals, which is to say ACTUALLY useful people.

No academic can be routinely expected to find a world interesting which does not find them interesting.  That would require far more honesty and humility than most of them possess.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Greek Error

As I think I mentioned, I recently listened to a series on Greek philosophy from the Teaching Company.  I was filled often with an anger, a sense that the entirety of our "Western" civilization is founded on errors which have finally reached a point of folding in upon themselves, a point where our best and brightest have become stupid and violent (with shining facades of sincere humanistic interests, and deep erudition).

Socrates asked "What is Goodness?" (roughly: work with me here, and yes I have some understanding of the Dialogues and the abstractions actually discussed).  Plato told us it had an existence, since abstract ideas could not exist without some referent beyond the awareness of those who had not traveled out of the cave.

Aristotle defined it.  He created treatises showing us in what Goodness consisted.  Plants have an optimal form, and so too does the human animal, existing in a polis.  Some plants shrivel and do poorly in bad soil, but that does not change their nature and telos.  It merely makes them inferior, relative to what we can define clearly as the ideal, as what reflects "reality".

2,500 or so years later, we have realized that what Aristotle posited as the ideal, or what Plato posited as actually existing in some weird other world, was actually culturally defined, and sculpted with words.  Given other words, other "realities" open up.

OK, here is my take: it's all in the questions.  Bad questions lead to bad answers.  And even very intelligent people ask bad questions.  We are all limited by our experience--our culture, and the path we have traveled through it--and by our imagination.

Here is the correct question, which we are NOW in a position to ask: "what is the goal of the concept of Goodness"?

This question does not presuppose some world beyond the senses where "Goodness" exists in some way.  It does not presume to tell us in what Goodness consists.

Rather, it asks an eminently practical question: what the fuck do you want, grasshopper?

Is it not obvious that abstraction exists in support of concrete emotional realities?  Do we not think to further emotional ends?

Logic is all about ends and means.  A mean which leads demonstrably to a desired end is rational.  A mean which does not is irrational.  This basic thought process connects abstraction with reality, with the real world as it is lived, with our lives.

The concept of Goodness is very simple.  It is a heuristic device to guide decision making in the service of furthering qualitative growth, both for individuals and cultural/social orders.

We can create words to describe what we mean by qualitative growth, but we need to grasp--GROK, to borrow an invented, useful word--that what we truly want is the equivalent of "one hand clapping"; or, as I have put it elsewhere, of "THAT".

Dialogue can collapse.  Words can fail us.  But we do not live through words, do we?  Watch the clouds fading in the sunset.  Go out on a muggy, close night, and watch the moon, and feel the life around you.  Can we integrate that to a Platonic dialogue?  No.

Look your lover in the eyes and tell her you love her without a word.

My recollection is that Wittgenstein said "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, muss man darueber schweigen."

Ponder a room full of emotion.  Ponder a man and a women, just after an argument, or perhaps just after love making.  What can they say, now?  What is left?

Can we not see a room FULL of things that a poet might render, but which cannot be reduced to "reason", and which are nonetheless quite real, quite relevant?

Oh, when I see THAT, it doesn't get posted here; only perhaps a small shade, on occasion, and through translation.

But the Greeks--and here is my point, and by which I mainly mean Plato and Aristotle--did not leave room for "that".  Their world was one of definitions, of words.  Socrates himself, I think, seems to have well understood that words do not a life make--which is why he left none.

But for my part, I would like to reiterate my question: "what is the goal of the concept of Goodness"?

We can obviously continue this: what is the goal of the concept of Justice?  What is the goal of the concept of Arete?

We can define what the goal is, and then apply EMPIRICAL means to reconcile our goal and means.

It is precisely the great crime of Leftist practice and ritual to have abandoned this basic relationship, and to have embarked on a profoundly anti-rationalist, anti-humanist agenda.

All of the errors on display relate, I think, to the idea of "Is-ness".  "Goodness", as a concept, is not a thing.  It does not "exist".  The concept, itself, is mutable--meaning whatever any given speaker chooses--but it becomes useful when we ask for what it is intended, and how we might best pursue that end.  In some important sense this makes ethics "scientific".

As I suppose I should say from time to time, I have no opposition to science, per se.  I oppose, rather, people who ABUSE the scientific method for personal gain.  Such gain can of course include research grants, but more generally it includes the protection of scientifically indefensible biases.

Hell, I've been drinking a tad, but hopefully this is useful to someone.  Certainly, it has been useful to me.

Edit: when I say a tad, read at a minimum 8 ounces of 100 proof.  I'm actually on the mend.  I am making my peace with what I need to make peace with, but for now I am continuing old habits.