Monday, May 09, 2005

Terrorists Are in the Eye Of the Beholder

Especially when they've worked for the US, espcially during Iran-Contra, and now want asylum here and have a sense of entitlement.

Very, very interesting. Bush has his back up against a wall, politically. He'll have to sell out Posada, and thus we'll have yet another terrorist who hates us.

This is what you get for playing little-boy-thinks-he's-James-Bond-cloak-and-dagger games. Other things you get: a big, smoking hole in downtown NYC and your Pentagon.

Question: Who thinks the US is ever going to learn? Yeah, that's what I thought.


12 Thoughts:

Blogger Doug said...

Not to mention the massive hit the GOP presidencies will take, including Saint Reagan's, when Posada spills the beans after we deny him asylum.

Don't deny Posada asylum, and you'll get hammered politically both at home and abroad.

I almost feel bad for Bush. That's a lie -- this is exactly what he deserves. All he's got going for him is bread, circuses, and fear, so expect some 9/11/terrorism-related story to pop up as this story heats up. SOP.

Monday, May 09, 2005 1:21:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 7:01:00 AM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 7:17:00 AM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 7:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi, Allen:

"Bread and circuses" is an old reference to how the Romans ruled a populace that was partly slave and mostly poor: give them some free bread and some games (in the Circus Maximus), which at times included dismembering Christians. I think it goes well before Chesterton -- who wrote a very interesting book on St. Francis, who is my kind of saint, atheist though I am.

Anyway, I wouldn't pound on a misspelling; I know they're not fixable in comments. Not to worry.

My point is that Bush (meaning not just him but his administration, handlers, etc. -- it's shorthand) uses fear of terrorism blatantly, as well as the kind of GOP-funded media circuses, such as over-coverage of Michael Jackson (who cares?) on Fox, MSNBC, etc., while Afghanistan falls apart and Iraq continues to be a mess, to divert attention. Flag-burning was a similar distraction, as is worries over cloning, etc. We have clones. They're called identical twins. There's no moral issue there; whether they come out of a vagina or a test tube, clones have individual rights. Period. Pass that law and the conversation's over.

Gay rights -- another diversion. If you believe at all in this country, everyone should have the same rights. That means, gays can get married too, and visit their loved ones in hospital. Seems to be basic (non-religious) conservatism to me: keep the government out of the bedroom.

On bread: I would say the meaningless $300 tax "break" -- more than made up for by state tax and fee hikes -- was Roman "bread" extraordinaire. "Bread," in this sense, is simply the demagogic screwing of the non-moneyed classes: get those who actually are hurt by your actual economic and military policies to vote for you by mouthing crap about an "ownership society" when in fact all you want to do is reward Wall Street with another trillion to play with -- and cut future benefits. Based on a false sense of "crisis" in SocSec. That's the fear part.

On allying with shadowy types, it must be done intelligently, or you get gaping holes in lower Manhattan. This isn't a "conspriacy theory," it's history -- the US has supported every authoritarian dictator in Latin America and the Mideast, mostly for resources, and mostly for oil among those resources. That's the macro-point that we're still dealing with. Throw in hysteria over "Communism," and you can trace our present problems to the national security state we instituted in 1950, and our subsequent misplaying (by Dems and Reps alike, with the exception of Carter) of our cards. Hubris, plain and simple; and it's biting us in the butt now.

That's my point. :)

Friday, May 13, 2005 7:51:00 AM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 8:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi, Allen:

On circuses: yes, much of it is "automatic" in the sense of serving the market, and thus not coordinated with the Bush folks. Structurally, it serves a purpose useful to those who wish to hide the real issues of politics: resource use, money flow, and war vs. peace. In other well-known and well-documented cases (such as the VNR scandal, what's happening at PBS and the CPB right now, and above all the use of Pentagon talking points by FoxNews), there has been collusion. Call it what you will, but that's a fact. I thought "liberals" were supposed to be naive about power and human nature?

On cloning: I don't see any connection to eugenics at all. All I'm saying is, we have had clones in our species all along. They're called identical twins. As long as every human individual has equal rights, regardless of how that human was produced, I still see no moral issue whatsoever. To clarify, if a clone, of whatever provenance, has full equal human rights, it obviously follows that he or she can't be "harvested" for organs, or some of the other silly scare tactics that have been used against this.

On a slightly related point, if fetal stem cells can save lives, how can a prolifer possibly be against it? How could a prolifer possibly be against sex education, free condoms, more birth control research, etc., given that humans are constantly in estrus, unlike most mammals? Different issue, granted.

To get back to your questions, no I don't think that OJ, Scott Peterson, Martha, et al, are the result of a planned conspiracy. It's a structural argument: a coproduction of very limited, sometimes politically motivated (but not always), always money-motivated top-down TV offerings and uneducated, ignorant bottom-up demand by a large chunk of non-thinkers in this society -- that I agree with you on. But it's not a matter of bottom-up demand only; that's a little naive. One needs to believe (and I mean that religiously) in market fundamentalism to accept that it's all bottom-up demand.

If only it WERE "only" a conspiracy! It would be far easier to root out. Unfortunately, it has deep roots in American anti-intellectualism (see Perry Miller's _The Life of the American Mind_, Richard Hofstader's _Anti-Intellectualism in American Life_, Louis Menand's _The Metaphysical Club_ for an intro to this part of our national identity, in which evangelism, pietism, and fear of intellectual freethinking combine to give us, in our latter days, organizations like New Life, which is truly frightening. (See this month's _Harper's_ for some excellent reporting on those folks.)

On atheism being a faith, I agree somewhat, in that if you insist upon religious certainty, then, no you can't disprove the existence of God. Nor can you prove it; hence T. H. Huxley's invention of the term "agnosticism." I think that the "beyond-a-reasonable-doubt" argument works fine for me; hence I'm OK self-labelling as an atheist. That does NOT mean I see no value (or values) in religion -- a tremendous amount of art, music, thought, etc., has come out of all faith traditions. I just find it ironic that since all of these traditions are human inventions, we somehow feel that we need something bigger than ourselves to create an ethical system. I can't say that we have one now, and the monotheistic religions have had a long time to make one. What is written and what is done are two separate things, surely. And the number of dead who were killed in the name of all religions is quite high.

I appreciate your Dostoevskian fear that "without God all is permitted" -- it concerned an atheist like Camus quite a bit. However, it doesn't follow that "no religion" = some kind of social Darwinism or power worship. Just as there are simply too many ethically wonderful religious people to allow someone to say, "All religious people are bad or hypocrites," it's equally empirically false to say that "Anyone lacking a belief in God has to be a Nietzschean power worshipper or social Darwinist." Huxley himself noted that simply because nature works a certain way has absolutely no influence on what social form humanity should take, or what mores we should agree upon. That's the "naturalistic fallacy."

On taxes: First, don't assume I look down on the working class. I'm marrying into it. Second, I agree that when you don't get services, taxation becomes unfair. And, yes, the fact that middle-class and working-class people support non-tax-paying multinational corporations and the 1% of the country that owns the majority of that country is deeply, deeply unfair. I vote against my economic interest all the time -- for ethical reasons you'd probably agree with.

But I do not think government is the enemy. I do support the New Deal and the Great Society -- not that it shouldn't be amended and not that people can't disagree on how or whether they accomplished or accomplish their goals. But the goals, I adhere to: a more equitable society.

On gaping holes in Manhattan: I lived in NYC during 9/11; was working midtown when it all went down. Know people who were even closer and saw horrible things; know people who lost uncles, etc. As a religious guy (I assume), you ought to know the differences between ultimate and proximate causes in morality. The proximate cause was a wacked-out fascistic group of suicide bombers, who should be hunted down. Fine. I don't think many people disagree that they are guilty of a terrible crime.

The question is: Why did they do it? "Because they hate freedom" is not an answer; it's a slogan. They sure do hate us. It behooves us, in our own self-preservation, to ask and find out why. If you do that, you will be led back to American foreign policy in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. That's the ultimate cause -- and between that cause and the proximate are all kinds of contingent events and people with at least constrained free will making choices. But my point is less moral than survival-oriented. Let's find out why they're pissed at us (not Al Qaeda, I mean large sectors of Islam...not mention Latin America, et al), see if they have a point, repulsive and wrong as 9/11 was, and DO something about it to protect ourselves and our children.

To my mind, we ought to: 1. Get off oil ASAP. That is overdetermined; national security being only one issue. 2. Get out of Saudi Arabia completely and stop propping up a corrupt, terror-supporting regime. 3. Expand globalization to labor markets and environmental standards. 4. Re-engage with global fora -- there is no other choice. The big issues we face -- WMD proliferation (for which we hold a lot of the blame, by the way), AIDS/HIV and other emergent diseases, global warming, etc. -- are all planetary in scale. If we want our civilizations to survive, we have to take this on as a planet. BushCo likes to go it alone, which is just plain stupid. Not sure if it's even "conservative" -- I'm sure Patrick Buchanan would disagree with that label.

So, no, I'm not "blaming" 9/11 on America. It's just that I have the wherewithal to look my nation's actions in the face and try to undo some of the reasons why groups like Al Qaida are so popular. They are a travesty of Islam, that much is clear. But they are real and being in Iraq for the reasons we REALLY are in Iraq is doing nothing but proving Bin Laden's major points. I just call that plain dumb -- it's neither "liberal" nor "conservative."

Finally, it's worth considering that "neoconservatism" is really Wilsonianism -- a "liberal" Democratic version of Manifest Destiny -- in a new bottle.

Labels are really just shortcuts to thinking; we gotta get beneath the surface to begin to fight the real fight -- against unpatrioitic rapacious multinationals who pay no taxes, as you rightly point out, against unfettered unsustainable development (what happened to Christian stewardship of the environment?), and against injustice -- the same kind of injustice Jesus fought against...not in Mel Gibson's version, but in the actual New Testament, which I've read more than twice...and actually prefer to the Old Testament. Jesus was a radical, as far as I can tell -- "eye of the needle ," "the last shall be first," and all that.

So, I'm more than ready to ally with any religious person who has the same social justice and rational un-self-destructive foreign policy goals in mind as I do. What do I care about the provenance of those values? As long as they're there and acted upon; fine with me. :)

I hope this clarifies my positions for you; not that you have to agree at all, but I don't think I expressed them completely enough (and probably still haven't).

Thanks for your posts! I hope you continue to post. We like having other viewpoints!

Friday, May 13, 2005 9:41:00 AM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 2:14:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi, Allen:

My mea culpa is on your site here, just in case folks on cyberpols don't see it.

Keep posting! We (meaning not you and me, but "left" and "right," "blue" and "red," or whatever) need to understand each other, or this country is in big trouble. I think we can probably agree on that.

Best, Doug

Friday, May 13, 2005 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...

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Friday, May 13, 2005 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Good article. One quibble: I think "liberals" have a view of the common good -- pretty much the same as that famous Deist Thomas Jefferson's: basically the freedom FOR EVERYONE (TJ kind of cheated on that one) to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. TJ changed the usual Enlightenment mantra of "life, liberty, and property" for interesting reasons. I think because he knew that 1. not everyone had property; and 2. money can't buy you happiness (or love). Interesting!

Friday, May 13, 2005 4:38:00 PM  

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