Skip to content

Only in America, You say…

It’s a Mad World. I came across this news clip , which relates a third party’s $2.6 million political smear campaign another candidate’s ties to plutocratic self-interests. The irony, not likely realized by the perpetrator, is that the TV ads are themselves sponsored by Super PAC, largely funded Tom Steyer, one of a handful of uber-rich Americans who are increasingly flexing their muscles in U.S. Politics, who intends to fork out $100 million. One special interest disparaging another special interest for being a special interest that corrupts the political process.

If he was British, it might be seen as an expensive endeavour in satire. But North American culture doesn’t do satire; or at least, doesn’t do satire very well; or at least, lacks too unsophisticated an audience to appreciate it. But being American; either the billionaire plutocrat is entirely oblivious or whose contempt of his fellow nationals is such, he genuinely believes that the wool can be pulled over in blatant chutzpah. I choose number two. The fearful thing in a nation with an arsenal of WMDs; what if his contempt is justified?

I am not picking sides. Current politics in America is a matter of choosing the lesser of two weevils, where all the children are insane. Nor do I care that Tom Steyer is opposed the XL Pipeline, when it is in our best interests to diversify our trade before the Americans implode in civic conflagration and/or a debt/deflationary vortex caused by an irrational debt-induced mother of all asset bubbles.

Egypt and the Arab Spring

The self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi set off the “Arab Spring” in 2011 and upended three governments in quick succession in eastern North Africa. It caught both global media outlets and Western governments and their spy agencies flat-footed. Yet again. His tale exposed a hitherto subterranean seething by an educated class, hampered from achieving their ambitions commensurate to their abilities, by a corrupt governmental apparatus and society, where connections and bribery were necessary conduits of success. Or so we are told.

In the aftermath, the existentialist delusions that Western liberal society told itself was that the ideas and ideals of the French Revolution were now coming to the Islamic world. Expectations that the Egyptian electorate would return a liberal minded administration revealed the continued ignorance on the part of obtuse Westerners about the resurgence of Islam since the 1970s after Arab disappointment with secularist experiments; and the cultural mindset that Islam engenders.

The overthrow of the decrepit, corrupt, modestly oppressive military autocracy of Hosni Mubarak’s regime only exposed the underlying fissures of Egyptian society between that of a cosmopolitan and less religious urban population and the conservative religious and moralist countryside. When the Muslim Brotherhood won both lower chamber and presidency, Western opinion was mildly surprised and dismayed. But it dismissed this reflection of the realities of Egyptian society by noting that the Muslim Brotherhood was a pre-existing party machine unlike its adversaries, which gave it natural political advantage.

An overtly political judiciary, appointees of Mubarak’s previous regime and of more liberal persuasions, found pretext to declare the lower chamber election illegal and dissolved it. It provoked a constitutional crisis and a gathering storm of protesting liberal and secular urban mobs, seeking to illegitimately overthrow the Morsi presidency and overturn the election results. The military, one year into the democratically elected president’s rule, exploited the urban mobs to legitimate a coup in July 2013 and re-instate an even less benign military autocracy.

Both internal and prejudicial Western opinion justified such overturning of electoral results. They pointed to ‘incompetence’ and Morsi’s attempt to legislate without judicial oversight. How competence can be truly ascribed after one year of office; in lieu of the chaotic aftermath of tumultuous revolution, being presented with a constitutional crisis immediately upon assumption of power, and facing an urban population dedicated to undoing rule of law, defies integrity and reasonableness. Western opinion would be aghast if President’s Bush or Obama were ousted by coup d’etat, despite considerably greater incompetence. But then; these Egyptians are just brown people.
And claims of dictatorial pretensions by Morsi cannot be viewed outside of the context of the pretensions of a judicial oligarchy attempting to overrule legislatures like a divine right monarch. With the checks of both judiciary and military militating against such aspirations, it too becomes laughable mendacity.

“Islamist” rule may be quite reprehensible to the secularist liberal. However, by demonstrating dishonesty, hypocrisy and infidelity to those ideals of rule of law, justice, liberty, free civic society and democracy when it disadvantaged themselves; the long-term moral legitimacy of those ideals and their ostensible champions is discredited. Those Islamists, who attempted to play by the rules, cannot but see their political interlocutors and ‘loyal’ opposition as a people without integrity, virtue and honour; true infidels. Consequently, Islamists can only see the political game inordinately stacked against them, if they play by liberal democratic principles. One can safely presume that a more violent outbreak of Islamism in the future will be the result; not only in Egypt but throughout the Islamic world; if not the world in general.

The State of American Establishment Opinion

The problem with subjectivist (“subjectivity is truth, truth is subjectivity”) or existentialist (“I create my own reality”) truth is that the world’s real actors always miss your cues.

The narcissistic, parochial insanity that is the ideologically gated community of the American Versailles, whose heartland stretches from Boston to Washington, never ceases to astonish and amuse. Or its sycophantic audacity. The ignorance, stupidity, folly, mendacity and all-round mediocrity of its Ivy League elite has become downright dangerous in foreign policy. And it behooves my country to quickly pursue an independent trade, economic, political and military policy before our all too integrated ties with this unhinged behemoth takes us down with it.

According to a self-proclaimed expert on Russian affairs, writing in the venerable Washington Post, Russia is not living in the reality-based community. To whatever extent that that is true; one of this columnist’s immediate example drips with supreme irony.

On almost any other issue you can think of, Russian views differ radically from the consensus here in America. Russians have extremely different opinions about the conflict in Syria, viewing the war in that unlucky country not as a brave struggle for freedom but as a chaotic war of all against all. They have different views about the war in Libya, where they see the overthrow of Gaddafi not as a new beginning but as the start of chaos and disorder.

I must confess to deep envy for not emanating from a family that could put me through Harvard or the connections that would have me groomed to write for Salon, The National Interest, Forbes, The Atlantic Monthly or the Washington Post, even before I finished post-graduate studies. But laying aside such personal pique, might not these media outlets, these major opinion makers be more circumspect as to whom they wish to represent them? Or do they share in this lad’s wide perceptual variance from objective and actual reality, otherwise known as insanity?

Two days after this ridiculing of Russian perspectives on Syria and Libya, the U.S. State Department issues this travel warning as it shutters its embassy.

The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital. Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents. Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.

The status of the country’s interim government remains uncertain. The newly elected Council of Representatives is scheduled to convene by August 4, but political jockeying continues over where and when to seat the parliament. Heavy clashes between rival factions erupted in May 2014 in Benghazi and other eastern cities. In Tripoli, armed groups have contested territory near Tripoli International Airport since July 13, rendering the airport non-operational. State security institutions lack basic capabilities to prevent conflict, and there remains a possibility of further escalation.

U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Libya, despite this Travel Warning, should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Libya enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

You should make plans to depart as soon as possible. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. Flight cancellations occur frequently. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Libya are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Land port closures occur frequently.

The warning is actually not that significantly different from the one issued on May 27, 2014. Of course, if any American networks had covered the recent Libyan conflagration in as great detail and insight as well as Aljazeera had, (which reminded me of American reportage on the Viet Nam War); such continued deceits and self-deceits that Libya was on a new beginning to a Westernized liberalism democracy would have been disabused from the beginning. As much as Muammar Gaddafi was unhinged himself, the country was peaceable. The autocracy was not too oppressive or murderous. Why rock the boat? Has no one amongst the Washington Establishment watched and absorbed the lesson of Woody Allen’s “Bananas” (1971)?

Who really is not living in the reality-based community?

The Varied Enemies of Marriage

Perusing the news nowadays becomes a masochistic exercise as we face a quickening accumulation of human folly and travesty. It is little wonder that many prefer to stick their heads in sand to safeguard their very psychological equilibrium.
So while this nation heaves a wearied sigh of relief from an electoral rebuke of the more blatant forms of petty-minded nativist bigotries in Quebec, along comes a broadside against the Estate of Marriage and by extension civil society. But from the ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada!

52. (1) Subsection 4(2) of the Canada

Evidence Act is replaced by the following:

(2) No person is incompetent, or uncompellable, to testify for the prosecution by reason only that they are married to the accused.

It was always my expectation that the bit-by-bit weakening of the spousal immunity laws over the years would invariably lead to a total blanket overthrow of this legal protection from the creeping tyranny of statism. But it was not to be expected from the ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada in this Amendment to the Canada Evidence Act as part of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

The whole point of spousal immunity is to provide one corner in this gotcha dog-eat-dog social jungle, where a person can be psychologically naked, open and vulnerable and without inhibition, that is intimated in the very metaphor of sex. Having at least one venue of protected confidentiality is a primary contributor of mental health. Having at least one person, one can trust, can act as check against one’s own folly and even criminality.

However, it is not only a matter of psychological well-being. This yet another intrusion into the bedrooms of the nation, enervates the cohesion, unity and strength of the nation’s marriages, and by extension families. It attacks trust, which is the fundamental foundation to all social relationships. Indeed, emotive and erotic passion, is, in large part, a function of such trust. Spouses must now be courageous enough to suffer judicial penalties to protect the sanctity of their marriages.

By extension, it further diminishes the distinction between all-consuming, fierce loyalties of committed and united lovers from the mindset behind atomistic hook-up sex culture. It undermines its very raison d’être for getting married.

It extends that late Roman Empire policy of pitting every man to spy on their neighbour and every man to distrust his neighbour into the very midst of erotic union. It brings to mind the state exploitation of the Hitler Youth, to report on their parents. It furnishes yet another statist assault on the private civic entities, which can provide checks against this encroaching totalitarian Leviathan.

Yes. I know that there exists this half-wit, self-righteous form of conservatism of the Vic Toews and Britain’s William Hague who pontificate that “the law-abiding citizen has nothing to be worried about”. However, this obtuse form of conservatism is ignorant of history. Even cursory perusal of Quebec politics should disabuse such a notion. It presumes the virtue of the judicio-political authorities. But why should anyone think that the propensity to folly and foible in humanity becomes transformed upon entrance into public service or that the governors will not use such overriding of immunities for less than noble ends?

The ‘Conservative’ Party of Canada has sought to radically reduce judicial discretion in sentencing because of radically widespread inconsistencies, which undermine the moral authority of justice. Does it now wish to sic these judges on married couples; giving judicial discretion as to what constitutes a valid and acceptable violation of marital confidentiality? Does the notion of rational consistency ever creep into their caucus meetings?

This type of policy emanates from the simple-mindedness of single-issue morons, who cannot balance in their mind, more than one consideration at a time.

First of all, it is the last vestiges of a very antiquated area of the law.

Peter Mackay, Justice Minister, April 7, 2014

What a curious and sophomoric argument from a ‘conservative’. The agedness or newness of a principle or attitude surely has little correlation to its virtue. Should we also abrogate democracy, rule of law, chain of command, principles of justice and due process and other concepts and practices that gave rise to Western civilization, because of their antiquarian pedigree?
Such “first of all” modernist arguments can only emanate from the arrogant stupidity of a pampered child of hardier ancestors who fought to extract such restraints on statist overreach. In what way exactly has human nature or the sociopolitical dynamics of societies changed over the last couple hundreds of years, to justify such a sophomoric sophistry?

♦     ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

I, as committed Evangelical, cultural conservative, and small-r republican, social contract libertarian, find it difficult to comprehend any silence from the Conservative Party’s religious supporters. It is too important an issue to disregard and comply with. Any professed Christian, Jewish or Muslim adherent, who fails to remonstrate against this spousal immunity provision, is unfaithful to a primary concept of marriage within their own Holy Writ; namely of the one-flesh oneness of spouses, which this abrogation undermines.

I, as committed Evangelical, cultural conservative, and small-r republican, social contract libertarian, will defy this law, if called upon; in the name of a Christian, even universal (i.e. pagan Roman, Babylonian) understanding of the ingredients, necessary to marriage.

I cannot conceive how this abrogation represents any normalized and healthy form of conservatism? Conservatism has traditionally sought to strengthen the civil intermediaries between state and individual as a bulwark against statism; whereas Rousseauian liberalism reduces all civic intermediaries to become adjuncts and executors of the public will. And the 20th Century is full of examples of the atrocities of this latter mindset.

This provision is every bit statist sentiment as those of their liberal statist counterparts, which conservatives rail about. It is not conservative in any sense. Those, who have true conservative and/or theist sentiments, should at minimum, sit on their hands and let this monstrosity of a conservative party pass into the ash heap of history.

 

A Boss from Hell

Mr. Glenn Beck brought out the Vice President of Studio Operations to upbraid her publicly about several measures with a tinge of ecological concern to them, that were enacted. He resented the biodegradable “corn” spoons, the fluorescent light bulbs, water cooler and biodegradable cardboard recycling bins. You can see the episode here.1

Many of these ecologically-friendly products, that he speaks of, are of such quality and futility that they ought to be scorned. As for Global Warming (AGW); my biggest bugaboo is the lies and deceits that have been used to push this agenda. There is a politically charged environment within those supposedly scientifically disciplines that requires conformity to the AGW faith, by those who are supposed to be honest and impartial and scientific researchers. I will never give consideration of AGW again until they fire Mann and Jones at the IPCC first, in order to make some demonstration that they are serious about intellectual integrity.

So, I can appreciate Mr. Beck’s sentiments that “Global warming is a pile of crap.”

However, it is in his follow-up comments that turn me completely against such conservatives like Mr. Beck. And I do not understand why a true and self-respecting Evangelical, who actually believes their Bible, should have much to do with this ultra-conservative.

“If anyone does anything in this company because of global warming, they’re fired.”

Although said in all jest and frivolity. There is menace behind all the humour.

As a parent, and as much as it is possible; you do not go out of one’s way to deliberately discipline your child publicly. It is imprudent. All the child sees is the public shame that has been exacted upon him by his supposedly loving parent. The child gratingly resents it and forgets the lesson that is being taught. Even the Scriptures, when it comes to church discipline, first advocates private avenues before a public rebuke. So pulling the same public shaming on an employee such as Beck’s Vice President of Studio Operations is very much of similar bullying character.

As one can see from this blog, I am a theological conservative. I believe my Bible. And it speaks of liberty of conscience on secondary matters – Romans 14.

Mr. Beck makes a living out of castigating statists for amongst other things, violations of civil liberties and conscience. But how is he, in his private capacities any different. It would seem that Glenn Beck represents a faction which believes in merely replacing statist violations of free speech and conscience with corporatist violations. He is thereby just a hypocrite. And contrary to C.S. Lewis’ maxim, the robber barons can be very much as tyrannical as their statist counterpart.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

I am totally bamboozled that such a person can appeal to so many of my so-called Evangelical colleagues. True Christianity is not sociopolitical conservatism.

ENDNOTES

1.     Glenn Beck Program, Studio Treason, August 21, 2013, Accessed http://www.video.theblaze.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=29910975 on September 3, 2013.

George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin in the Backdrop of Deteriorating Race Relations: Foreign Perspective (Part 1)

Some events, like the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in 2011, are catalytic, if unpredictable. The underlying and unnoticed cause of revolutionary sentiment long seethes subterraneously, unnoticed by the cadre of jet-set international news media celebrities, who photo-up at every disaster like politicians. But we know not if, when and from where, a spark will set these combustible social atmospheres. Others are mere sideshows, but expose the current state of affairs within a society and culture to those astute enough to notice. Others are mere sideshows.

The Zimmerman-Martin sideshow is the middle option.

Dwelling in a jurisdiction outside the gates of the American zoo, my perspective could be dismissed as one lacking knowledge and empathy. And on this particular matter, which is more peripheral to my experience than those dwelling in the U.S., this is legitimate comment. My claim to credibility comes from having distance and perhaps therefore greater impartiality and broader perspective. Read more…

How Not to Sell Monogamy

In the first chapter of Christopher Hitchens “God Is Not Great”, he recounts a Sunday School marm, if I remember correctly, who irritates his budding intellect with the lamest reasons for seeking God amongst other rational fallacies.

In this spirit, I present Dr. Patrick Fagan’s take, a Family Research Council Senior Fellow, on the best reason for monogamous sexuality.

“Those who are monogamous have the best sex they’ll ever know, because they don’t know anything else.”1

With reasoning like this, I just know that the reassertion of traditional marriage as the social norm is just around the corner!

How about instead, we suggest the following:

There is a autobahn between the human heart and libido. And the most intense sexual experience will be consequence of very tight consensual human connectedness between the two persons, along with a healthy, uninhibited and comprehensive perspective and understanding of Eros, (Eros that extends beyond bodily functions – the physiological as metaphoric of the psychological unity).

Prior sexual experiences of every kind retain baggage that intrudes on present sexual relationships, whether the participants are aware or honest to recognize them.  Narcissism, selfishness, incapacity for love (as seeking the best interests of the other), lack of ethics, lack of recognition, acceptance and embracing of the masculinity/femininity and gender difference of the other, etc; all these act as impediments to the attaining of that deep emotional tie that contributes to and continually nourishes the best sex a person might have.

NOTES

  1. Lydia DePillis, Porn is everywhere. But that’s not what’s killing marriage, The Washington Post, July 19, 2013, Accessedhttps://socialreader.com/me/content/LkLbG?chid=130991&_p=trending&utm_source=wp&utm_medium=Widgets&utm_campaign=wpsrTrendingExternal-1-opt on July 20, 2013.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers