... because it hits the nail on the head. Maybe not all the nails of a UFTL, but those it hits it hits squarely.
CAUTION TO MY LIBERAL FRIENDS: READ NO FURTHER.
Monday, April 26, 2004 -
In the past months, I have had more than a few people accuse me of being a "neo-con."
Funny how "neo-con" has become a label of shame - now ascribed to anyone who sees that establishing a viable democracy in the Arab Middle East (and next door to Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) is essential to the region's long term stability and western security.
So where does that place those who call me a neo-con with a sneer?
They certainly can't be called "liberals" - they don't see liberation as a fundamental "droit d'homme."
I've tried to grasp at what is behind the thinking of the new left, consulting post-modern philosophy and its anti-foundationalism. In doing so, I suppose I re-made an unconscious assumption that I was trained to make as a young man. My parents are both quite liberal (formerly in the old sense, and now in the new sense). They were also very active in Democratic Party politics in Northern California. Oh, and they both had advanced degrees from Stanford - my Mom an MA in History, and my dad a PhD in Philosophy. The unconscious assumption? That the left is composed of people who think and read, whereas the right was not.
I had assumed that there must be some higher thread of insight that held the new left together. After months of examination, reading, consultation and debate, I have come to the conclusion that no such "higher thread" exists.
Before I go on, it is important to make something completely clear - I never have expected that politics is about idealism and theory. Hardly. It is about power. Both "sides of the aisle" are cobbled coalitions rife with contradictions. Yet, for much of our modern history, there have been themes that have provided the major political groupings in our society with some consistency. These themes have been particularly powerful when in the hands of the courageous and articulate. Despite his failings in the flesh, John F. Kennedy served as a beacon of hope and freedom when he spoke. So did Ronald Reagan (though I tried to despise him at the time).
John Kerry is both articulate and courageous, yet he does not serve as such a beacon. Why? Because there is no higher theme.
But there is a theme - and now it is my turn to throw out the label.
The theme? Neo-Adolescence. An Adolescent chafes at anyone laying out boundaries. Rather than address many problems, they tend to redefine a problem to conform to a solution that they'd like to have. Adolescents love to roll their eyes at authority figures and point out flaws in how things are said or done, then declare they'd do it better, yet rarely have a workable plan at the ready. Adolescents are easily offended, yet have a difficult time identifying what it is that has offended them.
They act out. They get angry.
Adolescents don't like the tough choices that adults have to make, so they endeavor to re-define the choices.
That is the theme uniting today's left. It is a very sad and distressing situation.
When I posted my "Dear Iraqi" post, I thought it important to lay out the stark policy realities confronting the United States regarding the region. The feedback was as alarming as it was (or should have been) predictable. Many thought I was changing sides on the war, or had abandoned democracy for Iraq. Neither is true.
Most alarming, however, were my leftist readers who sent their "ha ha" posts. The solution of the anti-war left to both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been, and continues to be, ignore it. Ignore the attacks. Ignore the tyrannies. Ignore the suffocation of the human spirit that only has one protected outlet - the mosque. In addition, ignore that many of these mosques are headed by clerics who read the Qu'uran in its most literal terms - they blame the infidel while recognizing the "house of Islam" and the "house of War". They also seek theocracy - the political (and economic) order called for by the Qu'uran
The word used by Neo-Adolescents is not "ignore." Adolescents are conditioned not to use such words - such words provide lecture-ammunition to authority figures. The adolescent learns to use an active voice - language that implies constructive effort. So we are told to "accept Islamic culture" and "embrace our differences" and "de-polarize the region."
On such threads, there is much academic support - the foundations of anti-foundationalism stretch deep into our universities. Young men and women are told that truths belong to cultures, and to impose the truths of western culture on an eastern culture is tantamount to ethnocide. In the universe of "higher threads," they are told that the core mechanism of imperial western notions is "logocity" - the need to describe things in one of two polarized states - "good" vs "evil" - "right" vs "wrong" - "moral" vs "amoral."
Yet, in such sophisticated perspectivism, there lies a fundamental problem - Islam is based on the same theological foundation as Judeo-Christian theology. A squarely western foundation. There is one God. The same God. There is the inrinsic, existentially polarizing logocity of "House of War" vs. "House of Islam." I can think of no more of an oppressive logocity than one that determines ones rights in a society squarely and wholly on where and how one prays - oh, and one's sex.
Such a logocity existed in Reformation Holland in the form of protestant "Consistories." They existed to ensure protestant teachings were consistent and gave no ground to anything remotely Catholic or otherwise heretical. Thankfully, such did not keep Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza from communicating and writing (though often clandestinely) the essays that created the foundation of the enlightenment (the very "foundation" that anti-foundationalists have the biggest problem with). These two found contradictions in Biblical text, yet theorized that God is perfect. The implications changed the fabric of western civilization - that God gave us choices and the capacity to reason. That choices can only be made by free men. That God therefore intended us to be free. That choice creates great and troubling moral burdens on the choser. that we all must make choices. That freedom is no easy thing yet is our right just the same.
By Islamic theology, these Biblical texts play some role, though minor. But pointing out contradictions in the Qu'uran (as Slaman Rushdie did) is blasphemous.
So the perspective that asks us to embrace fundamental Islam as a vibrant cultural force fit for other people in other places is really a clever means of re-defining the problem so that it can be constructively ignored. It seeks to have things "both ways" (clumsily implying the otherwise bankrupt logocity of "both") - freedom for some, tyranny for others, with both co-existing peacefuly as moral institutions.
This is not a war caused by some miscommunication or cultural misunderstanding. This is an existential war between two political systems - one that governs by the consent of the people, and another that governs solely on behalf of God, according to the Qu'uran - God's user manual for all aspects of human activity, be it trade, prayer, divorce or transportation. A user manual intended for every human being everywhere on the planet for all of time. An unequivocal, universal and oppressive set of truths, as interpreted by ill-tempered, bearded men. A set of rules intended for all humans to utimately fall under - only then can the "House of War" disintegrate.
That many of the tyrannies in the region are not currently theocratic makes little difference - the only outlet for dissent is the mosque, much like Catholic churches served as meeting places for the Solidarity movement in Cold War Poland. Unlike Poland, the solution discussed in the sancuaries is not one of liberation - it is one of Sharia. That Najaf's mosques are now stockpiled with heavy weaponry should not surprise anyone familliar with the western idea of absolutism.
So I suppose that makes me a neo-con. One who has abandoned making excuses for other societies at the moment they announce they will kill us. For those who continue to ignore, only one theme unites them: they are Neo-Adolescents. They are nourished by a modern west that reveres youth and self-absorption. They are people who visibly squirm when one uses the word "enemy" in conversation, yet they exemplify the corrupted "enemy" that the Punk Mullah al-Sadr points to from Najaf.
They choose to ignore the problem by redefining it. They thereby ignore the existential and moral burdens of choice itself. They make what Albert Camus might have presented as a false choice premised on a false sense of truth. Fundamentaly, freedom is essential to choice - chosing to abandon freedom (for the individual or for "the stranger") is to abandon the right to choice itself.
Just the same, the Neo-Adolescents will never have a beacon - there will be no Kennedy or Reagan for this group for the simple reason that this group lacks a higher theme. No spine will tingle as we hear the tortured words intended to obfiscate the challenges that confront us.
On the other side, George W. Bush will never be articulate - he therefore will never be such a beacon. The good thing is that the adults among us can see past that.
Well, I can't post this without taking exception to at least one or two things.
Regular readers of The Happy Carpenter will know that I've been struggling with a Unified Field Theory of Liberalism for many months; in fact, that question is what got me into blogging. So why did the Karmic Inquisition make me wait so long.
Second is the assertion that W, my beloved President, "will never be articulate." He is articulate. Eloquent, no. But yes, he is articulate, in the way a normal human being would be when posed the kind of questions he is posed, and knowing he'll get the kind of scrutiny he will get. If you've never tried extemporaneous speaking in front of a group, well, you would be surprised at how nervous you would get. I'm talking pee-your-pants nervous. W does OK. Now President Clinton, he was eloquent. You want eloquent?
PETERSON: Well, it's surprising, to be honest. ... I have spoken to a lot [of Marines] who have been engaged in some of these firefights. In fact, I was in one of the combat surgical rooms where they were working on a couple of these guys.
Two of them had been ambushed, not where the main fight is going on tonight, but their unit had been ambushed east of Fallujah. And seven people rolled in. There were two that had gunshot wounds. And they pulled a huge slug, a bullet, out of the leg of one of the Marines. And another one had a bullet wound right through the back.
And, amazingly, they were trying to convince their commanders that they were ready to go and go back out. I have been really surprised at ... the high degree of morale that these Marines have shown. Remember, they have only been here for a month and a half. Many of these units that are here now engaged in the initial invasion last year and were in Iraq for several months.
Now they're back. But they seem to be engaged. They're taking casualties. But it's really surprising. You don't see much head-dragging or anything like that. I mean, you know, what you see is kind of more encouragement for these guys.
And, for example, the one who had the gravest -- the bullet in and out through his back -- was trying to convince his commander that he'd be back. And his commander actually promised him that his spot was still going to be there. Another soldier who was injured in that huge firefight yesterday who I spoke to earlier this morning, he wanted to get back out there. But the only problem was, was that half his shoulder was missing around his firing arm.
But he was convinced he would be able to sit there on a roof and not have to run anywhere and he could contribute that way. So it's been surprising. But ... the Marines that are here certainly appear to be geared up for whatever the future holds.emphasis added
Maybe Mr. Peterson should look up "Semper Fidelis" in his Latin translator.
In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Saving Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists this year.
Israel insisted on a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians refused to live on "Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time.
At precisely 5:30pm on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the explosions.
The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set to detonate on Daylight Saving Time. But the confused drivers had already switched to Standard Time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to ask whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering the terrorists to their untimely demises.
The following article has been all over the web, at least the conservative sites, and all over conservative talk radio.
What the heck are you people thinking, over? Shut your pie holes! Don’t you remember what happened to your first choice apponent, Howard Dean?
I’ll predict right now that the Democrat party is going to follow its blueprint from the Democrat Senate race in New Jersey: they’ll wait until the last moment, blame the right wing attack machine, and switch their nominee. And they might have the chutzpah to do it after their convention. They will reason that the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy will not have time to smear their candidate (read: won’t have time to expose the typical lefty lies they’ll trot out as per usual).
Go ahead. Get it out of your system (and mine). But after today, IXNAY on the changing andidatescay!
by James Ridgeway
John Kerry Must Go
Note to Democrats: it's not too late to draft someone—anyone—else
April 27th, 2004 11:45 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C.— With the air gushing out of John Kerry's balloon, it may be only a matter of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn't have what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols know the party's got to have someone to run against George Bush. They can't exactly expect the president to self-destruct into thin air.
With growing issues over his wealth (which makes fellow plutocrat Bush seem a charity case by comparison), the miasma over his medals and ribbons (or ribbons and medals), his uninspiring record in the Senate (yes war, no war), and wishy-washy efforts to mimic Bill Clinton's triangulation gimmickry (the protractor factor), Kerry sinks day by day. The pros all know that the candidate who starts each morning by having to explain himself is a goner.
What to do? Look for the Dem biggies, whoever they are these days, to sit down with the rich and arrogant presumptive nominee and try to persuade him to take a hike. Then they can return to business as usual—resurrecting John Edwards, who is still hanging around, or staging an open convention in Boston, or both.
If things proceed as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean.
We just found out tonight that my daughter didn't get her Flat Stanly back, and it is due on Thursday!
She was supposed to mail it out to family who lived far away. Then they were to take it with them to interesting places and take pictures of him -- out sailing, on the golf course, at the museum, at a baseball game, etc. Then mail Stanly and the pictures back to Rochelle. Then she would bring them to class, the day after tomorrow, for a Flat Stanly party.
Well we screwed up. We thought Stanly had gone out in the mail, but after much searching we found him in an envelope with a stamp, waiting for months to be mailed out, to no avail.
Please help her. She is distraught as she is the only one in her class who doesn't have a Flat Stanly for the party. Obviously there isn't time to mail Stanly back & forth, but if you could print him out and take a digital pic of him wherever you go tomorrow, and email it back to me, you'd be a lifesaver.
Well actually, we knew what the smell was. With 3 kids and a dog, we recognize the smell of pee, believe me.
But where, or rather, from whom was it coming?
Suspicion settled on the dog, Honey Girl aka Stupida, but there were none of the usual incriminating wet spots on the carpet. Could it be a roof or window leak, with the water rotting under the rug somewhere? Unlikely.
First, water doesn’t smell like that. Second, it hadn’t rained here in weeks.
Today, the Happy Wife picked up a basket full of toys and just about passed out from a stench that coulda knocked a dog off a gut wagon. How did it get there? The Happy Wife argued the rain theory strongly, but The Happy Carpenter, builder of the walls and installer of the windows, resisted firmly. The dog almost got kicked, but HOW THE HELL does a dog move a basket out of the way, pee, then put the basket of not-peed-on toys back?
The Happy Carpenter was actually accused of peeing in the corner in his sleep!
But then The Happy Wife asked the little angel who shall remain nameless if she had peed there?
Are you sure? You won’t be in trouble, sweetie. We’re just tying to figure this out.
After further interrogation, the guilty angel admitting to peeing there three times. (More like 30 if you ask me.) Strange how the kid who was potty trained at the youngest age decides all of a sudden to start peeing in the corner and hiding it with a basket of toys.
So now the house reeks of bleach, which is a big improvement, but best of all:
Hummingbird Finally, my first hummingbirds. Saw them on a fire bush in Crystal Beach, FL. My rental's neighbor's yard is all xeriscaped, which is ugly to me but just fine with the little hummers. At first, I thought they were the biggest hornets I'd ever seen.
Flamingo! One of these dudes flew right over my house. I couldn't believe it. And please don't tell me it was a roseated spoonbill because it was a frickin' flamingo, dude! Huge and pink and right there above me. I was like so freaking out, you know?
Falcon! Don't see these guys too often. Wish we did. Bet the morning doves don't.
Black Skimmer These beauties are getting scarce, but one flew by yesterday at low tide on the hunt for minnows.
Dead sea turtle cool, but smelly
Reddish Egret These have been hanging out around the pool quite a bit lately. Must be a new group of adolesent birds -- the youngsters like to hunt where the water is clear, and it takes them a day to figure out there are not now and never will be fish in the swimming pool no matter how clear the water.
Brown Pelican I saw a flock of about 200 of these at Disappearing Island yesterday, just south of Anclote Island on the west coast of FL. Good to see such a large flock.
Wood Pecker They've developed a sudden interest in the orange tree, which just went into bloom.