He’s BACK — David Michael Green…,

and not much could make me happier. I have written about and linked to at least five pieces by DMG between 2010 and 2012 here at The Agonist. My intro to the last piece posted here on 6/17/12 follows:

[If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention] That’s the tag line of David Michael Green at his blog, The Regressive Antidote. I’ve been reading his stuff for a while now and have posted links to several of his writings at The Agonist…, here and here and here and here…, and on my blog. If I have to read political commentary, I don’t just want to be informed…, I want to be entertained as well. I have read most everything written by Hunter S. Thompson. He was the only political writer that could hold my attention with his acerbic and sometimes bombastic wit. There was quite a dry spell until I found Joe Bageant and his tell it like it is, no holds barred assessment of what was wrong with the political process in America. Sadly…, Joe is gone now too. But David Michael Green combines a style and vision that echos both HST and Joe B. Read More

Numerian…, As He Was Known Here…,

at The Agonist…, but now has his own blog under his real name of Garret Glass…, has a great piece up over there:

It’s Time To Destroy the Republican Party

A few quotes:

The title of this article is not simply a cri de coeur – an emotional appeal to exterminate one of the two major American political parties. It is a simple statement of fact. Something must be done, and soon, if the United States is going to get serious about climate change. But that is not going to happen if the American people – especially those who are able to vote – don’t get serious about climate change as well, and demand accountability for those who have stood in the way of scientific fact, and of reason, by denying that climate change is a man-made crime not just against humanity, but against all living things on this planet. In the United States, the wellspring of climate change denial is the Republican Party. Yes, the Republicans have enablers, men like Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes who for decades have used their media outlets, especially Fox News, to peddle lie after lie about what is happening to the climate and why. There are billionaires like the Koch brothers, and fossil fuel purveyors, such as Exxon-Mobil, who hide behind shell organizations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which fund “scientific” studies that attempt to debunk legitimate climate change science.

The collapse of the Republican Party into delusion and a profound disconnect from reality started under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was an actor – he understood the power of story-telling, but he was prone to hypocrisy, exaggeration, and factual misstatements. He presented himself as a religious person with high moral standards, but his personal life involved a messy divorce and dysfunctional relationships with his children. He would tell stories about welfare queens driving in Cadillacs to the state aid office to pick up their welfare checks, and the story always resonated well with whites who resented “uppity” blacks who didn’t know their place. But the story was false; no one could identify any such situation, just as no one could credit Reagan with the “science” behind his more ludicrous claims, such as trees causing pollution.

Incompetence then became the hallmark of the most recent Republican administration. The minute George Bush and Dick Cheney took office, they swept through the bureaucracy of the federal government, forcing out thousands of experienced officials who were perceived to have Democratic leanings. The consequence of losing so much talent was seen when Hurricane Katrina struck; FEMA had no officials on staff who had practical experience with a natural emergency. The same situation developed at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was put under the leadership of Christopher Cox, a California House member with no experience in the financial markets. But he didn’t need any, because his mandate was to fire as many regulators on his staff as possible, which he did, because – of course – Republicans don’t believe in government or government regulation. The market can solve all problems, except that it couldn’t when in 2008 the financial markets blew up as a result of the housing bubble collapse. The federal government was completely blindsided when this occurred – “no one could see this coming,” was the excuse the Bush administration used.

Nothing, of course, speaks of incompetence more than the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which has become the nation’s greatest foreign policy blunder and an act of hubris, and outright fantasy on the part of the Bush administration, that is playing out even today with dangerous consequences for the world.

A “MUST” read in my opinion…, right on Numerian…, write on.

One Question, Two Answers

  Despite what my children used to claim, I did not grow up fighting off dinosaurs or sabretooth tigers. I have, however, always been fascinated by history; not so much the facts  of events but what history reveals about the nature  of human beings. For the same reason, my library holds a large number of books – poetry, novels, non-fiction – spanning most of the Dewey Decimal classification, but which have in common that they all shine some light on some corner of what it is that makes us what/who we are. Perhaps as a child I found adult behavior puzzling and have been trying ever since to better understand it. And when I contemplate not only our current world but the long, chaotic march (stumble?) of mankind, it seems to me it finally comes down to one simple question:
    Am I my brother’s keeper? Read More

A Philosopher Looks at the Syrian Refugee Issue

One of my favorite blogs is Justin Smith. He’s always worth reading but this is particularly good.

One of the memes circling around the French Internet shows the mayor of the town of Roanne telling a huddled group of refugees that they cannot stay, since they are not Christian. “Neither are you,” is the reply.

Yes, some people are so ignorant as to believe that all Syrians are Muslims, but the most relevant clarification is not that some are not, but that that is irrelevant to the refugee crisis.

At the popular level in Europe, there is both dispiriting xenophobia and its opposite, a seemingly unprecedented preparedness to welcome the refugees and to take responsibility for their well-being. State officials have so far tended to play to the interests of the xenophobes, mostly not by expressing outward xenophobia (with plenty of exceptions of course, as with the mayor of Roanne, or with Hungarian president Viktor Orbán), but by classic buck-passing, insisting that the crisis is someone else’s problem. This is particularly the case for the poorer countries of the EU to its south and east, which are of course also the countries that are so placed as to first receive the refugees travelling by land (and, more perilously, by water). The absence of any obvious authority, either at the union-wide level or in each individual member state, reveals, like no other situation has since the EU’s expansion to include former Soviet Bloc states, that transnational body’s utter impotence and irrelevance.

American liberals and progressives love to fawn over the great liberal democracies of northern Europe with their advanced welfare states and their commitment to fair distribution of resources to all citizens. Yet as long as these societies continue to adhere to a sharp political and moral distinction between citizens and outsiders, between those who are in the system and those who are outside of it, what they have accomplished is scarcely any more worthy of praise than the sort of ‘socialism’ we see practiced within major corporations. European social democracies that extend medical care and education to everyone who has theirpapers in order, while expelling irregular migrants in nighttime raids and strong-armed police operations, are not truly egalitarian societies, but protection rackets. The extent that European citizens are today, en masse, resisting this arbitrary distinction between citizen and non-citizen, in order to come to the direct aid of the Syrian refugees, is precisely the extent to which Europe is living up to its claim to be Christian.

9-11 Remembrance Deserves Better

I am going to begin by standing on thin ice.

Memorializing September 11, 2001 is not something I do, at least not in the commonly-accepted sense. I do not hallow that day. I do not reserve a moment of silence. I do not obsess with hatred toward the people who caused immeasurable harm and suffering upon the lives of the victims and their families, but neither do I embrace them. And I do not embrace their equally radical antagonists.  I, like many others, have had 14 years to reflect on the event. I am sickened by it all.

People grieve in different ways.

Some people find ways to re-live their grief as though being constantly reminded of it will make them better for the experience. Of them, a few will take that impulse and focus it upon a cause which they believe will help right a perceived wrong, correct a perceived mistake–in short, ‘do something’ for a greater good.

Other people are more apt to absorb the shock privately and keep their expressions of grief private and personal. They too will build on whatever is left of their lives, but do so without fashioning it into a cause.  The coping, the remembrance, is personal.

You might be forgiven for thinking this latter kind of griever is isolated in an unhealthy way, wallowing dangerously in some great pool of self-pity–broken, inconsolable.  Surely some are, but my experience with private grievers is that most are not. I have known both sorts of grievers in my time, and it is very tempting to subdivide them into these stereotypes. They are archetypal. They make great characters for movies. And it would be easy fashion me into a third stereotype as an observer: the coolly detached emotional-cripple who doesn’t say a sympathetic thing about people’s deaths, injuries or struggles in the aftermath.

I am not an emotional cripple, but I do say this.  The urge to ‘do something’ constructive and the appearance of wallowing dangerously in a pool of self-pity merged almost instantly after September 2001. To this day, it still looks like a parody of grief. Or, if you prefer, it looks like a conscientious effort to present that day’s events as martyrdom.

Martyrdom is not only for Muslims. If there is such a thing as counter-martyrdom, I think that is what was presented in the chaos of that day and, for the most part, what we continue to see. It sickens me. And the prevailing laziness which prevents any sort of comprehension of what has transpired sickens me further.

I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way. If that makes me cynical, I accept the label, but I take no joy in it. I happen to think desire to ‘do something’ constructive with the grief surrounding 9-11 never came to fruition, and the reminders of that failure continue to this day. That leaves me with more respect for those people who suffer their 9-11 grief quietly. Such sentiment as I have, I reserve for them.


Kim Davis: Elected Official

The Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, has been in the spotlight for a couple weeks. A Democrat, she was sworn to perform her duties to citizens of Kentucky under oath. I thought the oath was as interesting as it is legally binding:

Section 228 of the Kentucky Constitution
I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of….. according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State, nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.

I particularly like the stuff about duels, don’t you?

My First Play

a satirical farce called:

How They Went Down

Scene:  Among others in a room gathered around a conference table are President George Wee Bush, VP Little Dickey Cheney, Condi Baby Rice, Collin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft.  Richard Clarke is not there.  The Wee One has a horrified look on his face as he reads from a piece of paper…, the CIA’s “President’s Briefing Report” of August 6, 2001.  He had received it when he was on vacation at his place in Texas on that date.  He stayed on vacation for 23 more days.  He is finally back on the job around 9/4/01.

Wee One:  Oh My Gosh…, OH MY GOSH !!!!  “Bin Ladin determined to strike in US.”  OH – MY – GOSH.  Little Dickey…, Little Dickey what are we gonna do?  Oh my…, oh my.  We better pray…, I’ll lead a prayer.  (He backs away from the table and kneels down, bowing his head and lowering his folded hands to his lap).  Oh heavenly Father…, lend us your ear…, and please save us from the evil ones who would do us harm.
Little Dickie:  (Moving to a position facing the kneeling Wee One)  What the hell are you praying for Wee One?  You should be praying for them to bring it on!  (The Wee One raises his head and his hands [in prayer?]…, Little Dickey takes a quick step back as he slaps the Wee One’s hands away)  Not now!  Get up from there you idiot.  This is exactly what we want, an attack by foreign forces on the homeland.  What better excuse to get a good war started and get the economy going? 
Wee One:  But somebody could get hurt Little Dickey…, maybe even killed.
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Ruminations – Escaping From Society

  Lately, I’ve been listening a lot of music about addiction: drugs, love, booze and more booze.

  I also re-read Alexander’s writings on the Rat Park experiment.

  I light of that in particular, I was contemplating what is missing in the the life of most people, at least in the developed (and developing) world that seems to lend itself to the misuse of various chemicals. Aside, of course from those who promote both addiction and the conditions that promote addiction, for their own personal benefit – from drug dealers to Big Pharma to Banksters to the MIC.
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