Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The once littlest Angel... leaving the nest and getting his wings (USAF) in March... puts the Angel on the Tree....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obamacare Violates My Right To Pursue The Healthcare I Choose!

Merry Christmas Sen. Grinch
A hundred Tea Partying Missourians laugh at obama's JokerOur Govt is infringing on our Right to pursue the healthcare we may, or may not, choose. I drug my self out of bed today (I've been flat on my back since Saturday with one nasty cold), and headed downtown on a drizzly winter day, to join a hundred or so of my fellow Missourians, to let our Senator, Claire "Obama's Joker" McCaskill, know that we know that their abominable healthcontrol bill is a VIOLATION of our Rights, not a fulfillment of them!
Radical ol' Me (Kleenex in pocket)

The Gunslinger recently made a post which I very much agree with, from the point of view of the proper expectations a person has towards getting healthcare - what the Doctors, Nurses, Hospitals, etc, offer is a Good - those healthcare goods and services, and while I may need them, and while I do have a right to negotiate to purchase them if I, and they, choose, neither I, nor anyone else, have any right whatsoever to take or compel them to provide those goods and services to me.

I can have no Right to what is rightfully someone elses - I have no Right, individually, or through the agency of Govt, to force someone else to serve me - not at any price. That is slavery - and we already spilt the blood of millions in a war to end that.

But do I have a Right to Healthcare?

Yes, I do. And it IS guaranteed by our Constitution... just not in the way that proregressives would have us think.

Our Constitution says so, in the 9th amendment,

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
and in the 10th amendment,

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
, it makes it very clear that my Rights are unlimited, and it is the powers of our Govt that are VERY limited. These amendments mean that the Rights which We The People have, are not limited by what the Constitution states, or by those rights it protects; our Rights are assumed to be numerous and undefined... even potentially unlimited.

I, as a citizen of the United States of America, have a right to eat, I have a right to shelter, I have a right to wear clothes that are out of fashion (if I can get them by my wife), I have a right to purchase cable TV... once they offer it in our neighborhood... until then, I have a right to dish tv... if they'll sell it to me at a reasonable price... I have a Right to engage in the pursuit of whatever goods, services, or lifestyle, I choose to seek, etc, etc, etc.

Whether or not I succeed in those pursuits is up to me, the others involved, and the vagaries of chance.

I, as an individual, have a right to act as I see fit, providing that I do not violate the rights of my fellow citizens, proper community ordinances, regulations or laws, without interference from my government.

Our Bill of Rights, enumerates those vital rights of speech, association, property, religion, trial and right to bare arms, which the Founders demanded, as a condition of ratifying our Constitution, that our govt be specifically prohibited from interfering with us in our legitimate exercise thereof.

Our Govt pledges to defend our Rights, Lives and Property from all enemies, foreign and domestic; it does NOT guarantee to provide us with any good or service - no matter how beneficial it may be - because in doing so it would violate all of our Rights. Our Bill of Rights restrains our Govt from interfering in our rightful engagement in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - our current leftist congress and executive, are seeking to turn the United States of America, into the greatest violator of Rights in history. It is an obamination, and must be stopped, and the elections of 2010 and 2012 will be the means for doing so.

What the proregressives in our Govt, like my Senator Claire McCaskill, fail to realize, is that their hideous HealthControl Bill, is a direct violation of my right to the healthcare I may, or may not, seek to pursue, and I resent it... I resent it so much, that I am working right now for their defeat in every election from here on out.

I, and a hundred or so of my fellow Missourians, got together today to remind our Senator that she is violating our Rights as American Citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of what we deem to be our happiness!
Laughable caroller's - video coming

Our hillariously horrible Carolling... the last round of "12 days of obamacontrol

Bloggers form '24th State', Jim Hoft of 'Gateway Pundit', Jonathon Burns of 'Campus Gulag' and Dana Loesch of 'The Dana Show'.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

EPA Blackmails Congress, and other catchy tunes

Trying to get some reading done, so I don't want to get too elaborate here, but just a quick observation on the rhyming of history, and the tone deafness of those who wait expectantly for history to literally repeat itself, even as the band marches past them, horns ablaring and drums beating the air.

Case in point, the recent declarations from the EPA,
"But Jackson's biggest applause line came when we said she was "proud" of the EPA's declaration Monday that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. "That is a decision that has been a long time coming," she said to a packed crowd in the U.S. Pavillion."
I often hear conservatives and libertarians anxiously prophesying about Obama (as the left did about Bush for the previous 8 years) "You wait! Another 'Reichstag Fire' is coming!", referring to Hitler's using that event as a pretext for assuming power. But there are a couple details these philosophical & historical literalist fundamentalist's fail to take note of.
  1. Hitler needed to get Hindenburg to raise him to having emergency powers. Hitler didn't have the top job at the time. Obama (as with Bush) is already the POTUS.

  2. The 'Reichstag Fire' s have already happened! They've only waited (as events always do) for a leader to take advantage of them!
The sad news for the Bush Derangement Syndrome folks, is that had he wanted to seize total power, he obviously already had 9/11 which could have fully enabled him to try to do so. And while his oversteps and errors were plenty, the fact that cindy sheehun, olberman, matthews, krugman, et all, were never thrown into Leavenworth, or Gitmo, and had the key thrown away (more's the pity) on them, shows that that was never Bush's interest or intent.

For libertarians & conservatives however, ever vigilant for history to provide a literal repeat of a 'Reichstag Fire' for them, they miss that for obama and the left, the 'Reichstag' is on fire and burning bright right now in the form of glowbull warming and healthcontrol.

The already existing powers of our unconstitutional regulatory agencies have only been awaiting an event to serve as pretext for putting their potential power into practice; potentially as effective as Germany's 'Enabling Act' would provide, and the EPA has just announced that this administration feels strong enough, and feel that the pretext is widely enough bought into, that the game is legitimately afoot.

Those sightless sentries staring about for their coming literal fire, are blind and deaf to the crises engines rushing around all about them.

In declaring 'greenhouse gases' to be a health hazard, this particular alphabet regulatory agency, having long ago been handed by congress the ability to regulate with force of law, no longer needs congress, a majority or otherwise, in order to put whatever laws they'd like in place at the direction of the President, via one of his Czar's. The obama administration, through the EPA, is, and not so subtly, blackmailing congress to accept the 'cap & tax' beating in order to avoid a regulatory knifing.

Interesting 'rebut' to that by mediamatters, they merely repeat the obvious meaning that Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Charles Krauthammer stated, that the EPA is blackmailing congress, and they assume that having repeated those charges in "quotes" ("... in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "blackmailing elected officials" to pass cap-and-trade legislation...."), the implied mocking of the opposing argument as being made by "yahoo's", nudge, nudge, wink, wink, is, they feel, sufficient to dismiss it. And thanks to years of jokes by the likes of Jon Stewart and so forth, no argument needs to be made, of course, because none is possible, but it doesn't matter when your audience isn't interested in Reason, neat or sloppy - they only want to be seen as part of the crowd doing the nudging - they just dismiss it as 'unthinkable', which is rapidly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Congress on the other hand, unless it acts quickly, is in danger of becoming a mere ceremonial figurehead of an institution whose only real purpose will be to provide glamour for it's 'office holders', and to rubber stamp with a patina of legitimacy, the wishes of the current administration. This administration has clearly declared that if congress doesn't act as the administration sees fit, then the administration will take away the congresses opportunity for praise and photo-ops, which will be particularly painful for the preening fops in the Senate.

It is not a foregone conclusion however. They haven't yet succeeded, but they are trying. They tried, and so far failed, to do away with FOX News. They tried, and so far failed, to do away with the Tea Party protestors. They may try, and fail, with this measure - but we - you and I - had better stand up and say something about it, for the current office holders in congress are unlikely to do it for us.

Historical Do-Wop
For a nice example of historical harmonics and rhyme, I offer a passage from Anthony Everitt's "Augustus" (pg 209-211), about Caesar Augustus, who 'saved the republic' after the civil wars,
"...He needed the collaboration of the ruling class, and this they would be unlikely to supply unless they were satisfied with the new order of things.

The Senate was not quite the body it had been. New men from the Italian countryside had filled the many gaps left by the old governing families that been weakened in the civil wars or had lost their money ad estates. Many came from regions that had received citizenship as little as fifty years before. Theirs was an Italian rather than a Roman identity. Even more controversially, leading men from southern Gaul and Spain, were recruited as senators. All these arrivistes saw their fate as inextricably linked to the new regime. So did a good number of impoverished aristocrats, for the astute Augustus took good care to fund them generously and thereby constrain their freedom to oppose him. He bound other noble clans to him by arranging marriages with his relatives."
(Do you feel the beat there? Hear how the harmonies work so well with post-modernists, 'black congressional caucus', new immigrants, 'undocumented workers', ACORN community organizing?)
"Nevertheless, members of the Senate still held a residual, deeply felt belief in Rome's constitution. They would not accept one-man rule; and they expected the state to remain a collective enterprise even if led by one man."
(Again, look for rhymes and harmonies, not literal comparisons, while nullBama would surely like to enjoy the office of the POTUS for as long as possible, these are people who have ceded their individuality to the collective, it is enough for them that their Party have power, the person or office seeming to be held, is of little consequence.)
"The presentation on January 13 of 27 B.C. was a piece of theater, of course. The Senate and the people remained, as they always had been, the sole sources of legal authority, but Augustus did not hand back any real power. In the last analysis he owed his dominant position to the army (and to a lesser extent to the people, who could be relied on to reelect him as consul for as many terms as he liked). It was no accident that his governorship of Spain, Gaul, and Syria gave him the command of twenty legions. [boom-cha, cha boom... California, New York, Massachusetts electoral votes]" The legions had legitimate reason to be there: the northern of the two Spanish provinces was still not entirely subdued; Gaul remained unruly; and Syria abutted the untrustworthy Parthians [historic Iran]. But, by comparison, the "senatorial" provinces, to be governed by proconsuls in the ordinary way, were calm; only three of them required armies [SEIU toot toot], and in total, they commanded five or six legions. Thus, most of Rome's armies were under the command of the princeps; as long as they and their commanders stayed loyal, he was safe."
[Here's where the ACORN blossoms into the Oaken chorus]
"Another important source of Augustus' power was patronage. He had inherited Julius Caesar's empire-wide clientela, and no doubt he had greatly expanded it even before Actium won him Antony's clientela too. His authority across the empire was expressed through a web of personal connections and loyalties, to which no other Roman could remotely aspire. In every community large or small, leading men were under an obligation to him, and were usually rewarded with the gift of Roman citizenship.

Augustus was pleased to boast: "When I had put an end to the civil wars, having acquired supreme power over the empire with universal consent, I transferred the Republic from my control into that of the Senate and People of Rome." [I don't want to run G.M. or the Banks, I'm working as hard as I can to give them back to the people"] "That was literally correct - the machinery of constitutional government came creakily back into operation - but for anyone with eyes to see, the truth of the matter was obvious. The princeps admitted it himself, stating baldly: "After this time, I exceeded everybody in authority.

This was acceptable because Augustus held no unconstitutional or novel office. Broadly speaking, he was acting within precedent. Also, he gave back to the political class its glittering prizes. Once more it became worthwhile to compete for political office (even though the princeps tended to select the candidates). The ambitious and the able could win glory on the floor of the Senate or in the outposts of empire.

It would be wrong to suppose that Romans failed to understand what was going on. They were not deceived. They could see that Augustus' power ultimately rested on force. However, his constitutional settlement gave him legitimacy and signaled a return to the rule of law. For this, most people were sincerely grateful.

Augustus' "restored Republic" was a towering achievement, for it transformed a bankrupt and incompetent polity into a system of government that delivered the rule of law, wide participation by the ruling class, and, at the same time, strong central control. It installed an autocracy with the consent of Rome's - and indeed of Italy's - independent-minded elites. Some Roman historians, among them Tacitus a century or so later, mourned the death of liberty, but at the time politicians, citizens, and subjects of the empire recognized that the new constitutional arrangements would bring stability and the promise of fair and effective public administration."
No, I am not saying that "we are the new Rome" or any other nonsense of the sort, but I am saying, that when you hear a familiar melody in the air, you'd better switch the station quick and start whistling your own tune, or you may find yourself unable to get it out of your head.

Btw, those waiting for the left to acknowledge that the 'ClimateGate' emails show the hoax of glowbull warming, are being foolish. The first rule of wielding "The Big Lie", is that you never admit it! Never, ever, you just minimize and dismiss all objections and contradictions and go right on repeating it, even louder. If we expect results from 'ClimateGate', it is "We The People" who will have to silence the nattering nabobs ourselves, at work, at play, during family dinners and in check-out lines and finally when that has reached a chreshendo, at the ballot box. But don't bother waiting for the left, let alone the goracle, to admit their lie - ain't gonna happen, they are radicals and know their rules.

Well so much for not spending too much time, back to the books.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The coming Crisis in the wings?

My spidey sense went off this morning... may be a false alarm, but I couldn't help thinking that as one cycle comes to a close, another is usually being prepped in the wings. Just as (going on memory here) Pollution took over from DDT, new ice age from that, recycling from that, Ozone hole from that, Glowbull warming from that, now with Climate-gate threatening the cause, the latest enviro scare (which just happens to be useful for saving Govt from angry villagers):


Not showing up much in the news yet, but it just had it's test flight on Fox, & Martha MacCallum was all a-flutter over it. It's been getting worked up to for some time, though some scientists not clued in have persisted in finding no basis for the fears, still it has strong birdbrain netting potential, as this from the Guardian shows,
""Four years ago, I was fab, fit and in my 40s with a dynamic marketing and media business, exciting social life and active sporting schedule. My lifestyle was exciting and affluent."

But devastating symptoms forced Sarah Dacre, now 50, to transform her life. She rarely leaves her house in north London, which she has screened from electromagnetic radiation with foil-lined wallpaper and Nasa-designed silvered cloth over the windows. She limits her computer use and makes telephone calls only on a landline. "If we go out for a quick meal we have to be out at seven and leave by eight because that's when everyone arrives with all their phones and their BlackBerrys," she adds.

Why? Because she is convinced that the cause of her symptoms is the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by computers, mobile phone handsets, cordless telephones, phone masts and the rest."
Why would it gain credibility, buzz and backing now? The metro-asexual they had on from Prevention magazine, warned that wifi-hotspots needed to be shut down!, wireless appliances!, people shouldn't operate them around unsuspecting passersby!... hmmm... how might policies like that affect, oh, I don't know, say amorphous groups of citizens who rely upon things like Twitter, Camera Phones, like Tea Party protestors maybe?

I could be wrong, but my bet is we'll be hearing more from this... hold on to your handhelds!

December 7th, 1941 - A lesson in unintended consequences

Let those who may be looking with sly eyes upon us now, recall that the smoke over our ships here,

...led to mushroom clouds over their cities there.

A day that will live in Infamy. Got that right.

And a silent salute to those who served.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

What does Athens have to do with Justice? (updated)

Early Athens
Ok, picking up on the trail of Justice again, having in the last post passed the first sparks of the West in Homer's Iliad, and Aeschyles' Orestia, I'm going to take a look at some of the drawbacks of hasty 'reasoning' being passed off as Justice, in two plays by Sophocles.

Sophocles, the Athenian playwright, 496 BC-406 BC, in his Oedipus plays, gives us a classic examination of the pitfalls of calculative thinking (as opposed to reflective Reason, think of it as Reason-lite), which you might look at as a stimulus and response approach to reason, rather than a deliberate, principled, approach to reflective thinking and responding, and the tragic results they lead to.

I've read these plays over the years, several times over, and have passed through enjoying the simple narrative of the plays at the surface level, and gradually have worked my way deeper into the meaning available within it; I think I've worked my way passed the next deeper levels populated by saps like Freud, and I flatter myself to think that I've managed to sometimes dive deep and touch the drain at the bottom of the deep end, before having to rush back to the surface, lungs bursting to draw breath, and I think along the way I've passed beneath a common interpretations claimed by many thoughtful people, people I respect, who see them as chiefly portraying courageous Hero's of deep character and conviction, standing up for Reason and Natural Law.

True as that is... I think it also leaves much still on the table still, much that is necessary for a good diet, certainly for one that we might hope to build stronger bones and muscles in our sense of Justice.

Oedipus Rex

"To Laius, King of Thebes, an oracle foretold that the child born to him by his queen Jocasta would slay his father and wed his mother. So when in time a son was born the infant's feet were riveted together and he was left to die on Mount Cithaeron. But a shepherd found the babe and tended him, and delivered him to another shepherd who took him to his master, the King of Corinth. Polybus being childless adopted the boy, who grew up believing that he was indeed the King's son. Afterwards doubting his parentage he inquired of the Delphic god and heard himself the word declared before to Laius. Wherefore he fled from what he deemed his father's house and in his flight he encountered and unwillingly slew his father Laius. Arriving at Thebes he answered the riddle of the Sphinx and the grateful Thebans made their deliverer king. So he reigned in the room of Laius, and espoused the widowed queen. Children were born to them and Thebes prospered under his rule, but again a grievous plague fell upon the city. Again the oracle was consulted and it bade them purge themselves of blood-guiltiness. Oedipus denounces the crime of which he is unaware, and undertakes to track out the criminal. Step by step it is brought home to him that he is the man. The closing scene reveals Jocasta slain by her own hand and Oedipus blinded by his own act and praying for death or exile."

In this play, we see the final day of Oedipus's rule, it's utter collapse, and the collapse of his entire world and self conception, in a True Tragedy - a dramatic catastrophe brought upon a character of great stature, and not by means of his vices, but by means of his virtues... misapplied. In this play, as summarized by it's opening argument (above) Oedipus, learns of an impending doom the God Apollo has pronounced upon him, that he will kill his Father and marry his Mother, and thinking that he can solve that issue, he quickly by runs away from home, so as to be physically unable to kill his Father or marry his Mother.


Problem solved. Right?

Well... first off as smart as a guy Oedipus is, as is demonstrated by his 'answering' the riddle of the Sphinx (there's quite a bit to be delved into in that alone, but this isn't the place. Bummer), when told by one of the deathless Olympian God's that his fate is to do something horrible... is it wise to think that you can simply exit stage left, and escape what the Gods have apparently fated for you? I mean, maybe an American in Junior High Lit class can be excused for suggesting that course of action, but... Oedipus? The aswer is NEVER one of places and things, but of choices. He lived in ancient Greece, he was raised on stories of people seeking to escape their fates and thereby running smack dab into them... what was he thinking?

Better yet, what wasn't he thinking?

He wasn't, in Thomas Sowell's words, thinking beyond square one. What he does in this situation, is that he takes a classic shallow, sophistical (and the Sophists were a major and rising concern of his time, Sophocles was said to have had Pericles in mind), seemingly 'sensible' reaction to events (our American term 'pragmatic' would have been a word and term I suspect Sophocles would have found very useful). What he does do, is to calculate his best course of action based upon appearances, in the way that a hand cranked adding machine might; He gathers and inputs X number of rumors, adds to those Y quantity of facts glimpsed, and divided by 1 divine forecast (which he accepts on its face without examining or considering other possible interpretations), and crank, crank, crank cha-ching, out pops his answer - simply fly off to Thebes to escape his fate.

He repeats the same process when accosted by a charioteer's procession, crank, cha-ching 'kill 'em all' and don't bother taking into account any recent pronouncement of the Gods which you might have become privy to, nyah, no worries. He repeats the process yet again with the riddle of the sphinx - perhaps demonstrating battery power rather than mere manual cranking power, but deterministically all the same, he merely runs it through a 20 questions grey matter computer, and 'solves' the riddle. And yet one more time, he repeats his impressive calculatin' skills when the prophet Tieresias attempts to tell him he should slow down, not jump at his first inclination, think things over, but Nooo, Oedipus loudly denounces Tieresias and declares that nothing will stop him from solving the mystery of Apollo's displeasure with Thebes.

The complete lack of self reflection, of any deeper intellection, especially from one damned with such a horrible fate, is breathtaking, and it resonates across the millennia with the invincibly ignorant smarts of today's 'reality based community' of leftists and new atheists (whom Sophocles would readily have labeled 'sophists'). I mean, if you don't mind the insult to Oedipus, can't you just imagine Algore in his place, overhearing a prophecy 'They oceans will rise because of glowbull warming'? "wull obveeusslee we neeed to chaAange the climutt oursalevs". (Psst! Al! Read Oedipus Rex! That strategy doesn't work out well!).

I did a brief post on this play in one of my first posts on this blog three years ago,
"Did he ever investigate the reason for his deformity? Did he ever ask of his 'parents' (whom here stand in for, and signify a somewhat deeper level of underlying truths and principles) the reason for the scars upon his ankles? Did he ever delve any deeper into the mystery of his 'Fate'? Had he been someone who had paid attention, and sought deeper wisdom, he would have discovered the truth - and in so doing, Possibly might have changed his stars, but Tieresias knew that the Gods & Fate knew their subject, knew that he would plunge in disregarding all custom, disdainful of any and all deeper meanings in favor of a glib solution, and so guaranteed -- his Tragic fate. Oedipus and those like him, would say that his Fate was determined by the Gods, but the Gods only understand that their subjects who suffer from Hubris, will react based on the surface appearance of things; they will not delve deeper into Truths & Principles - the realm of the Gods, the Hubristic will instead attempt to set themselves up as Gods, daring to think that what is apparent to their eyes is all that needs to be known and is in their direct control. The Gods don't determine mens Fate, they just know the results that must follow from those who place appearances above, and in opposition to, the deeper truths of Life.

The scars upon his foot? psh-posh, they're just scars, signifying nothing, implying nothing, able to reveal no Truths of any importance whatsoever - facts are merely facts, and are integrated no further into life than that which their appearance seems to show. In the same fashion, Oedipus "answered" the riddle of the Sphinx:
"What goes on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening"
Oedipus' answer was "Man. As a child he crawls on all fours, as an adult he walks upright on two, and as an old man, he hobbles with a cane". But as with his other solutions, it is a superficial answer, and entirely misses the deeper truth. Babies do crawl on all fours, they are 'in touch' with themselves they see and do what they do - if a lady is fat, they ask why, not realizing the question may be rude. As a fresh faced adult, they are are standing upright, their eyes looking up and away, less in touch with the earth, with reality, easily stepping into holes with their gaze raised high, or overlooks the dangers before them. As an old man, he does walk with a cane, his eyes are cast lower, still seeing far, but also now taking in the ground upon which he carefully walks, walks with the aid of a wooden cane signifying a support fashioned from nature, by his mind, to connect him more steadily with, and so better supported by, the earth - he is not just old, but Wise. What other courses of action might he have considered, if a deeper meaning than his glib reply, had entered his considerations?

Oedipus, in solving the riddle of the Sphinx so swiftly and glibly and sweeping up all glory to himself as a result, unintentionally gave the Sphinx the last laugh, as this man, this leader, armed with easy answers, brings about a doom that will destroy himself, his family, and his community.

Had Oedipus simply paused, questioned, considered, discussed matters, he might have, if not escaped his fate, he might at least have met it with more dignity. Of course, if that was his nature, I suspect the prophecy of the Gods would never have been made in the first place.

"Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, the late king of Thebes, in defiance of Creon who rules in his stead, resolves to bury her brother Polyneices, slain in his attack on Thebes. She is caught in the act by Creon's watchmen and brought before the king. She justifies her action, asserting that she was bound to obey the eternal laws of right and wrong in spite of any human ordinance. Creon, unrelenting, condemns her to be immured in a rock-hewn chamber. His son Haemon, to whom Antigone is betrothed, pleads in vain for her life and threatens to die with her. Warned by the seer Teiresias Creon repents him and hurries to release Antigone from her rocky prison. But he is too late: he finds lying side by side Antigone who had hanged herself and Haemon who also has perished by his own hand. Returning to the palace he sees within the dead body of his queen who on learning of her son's death has stabbed herself to the heart."

In "Antigone", Sophocles looks at the same situation, but bumped up a notch. Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, hears the pronouncement of Creon, and without further consideration or discussion, she takes it upon herself to bury her brother... again, she see's what is 'right' and must not be violated, and that is that. No need for persuasion, argument, etc, just act.

Many have made much of her 'natural rights' speech, but although I agree with that passage given in MY context, I don't believe that Sophocles meant it in the same way in His context. Similar to how many of our age typically see Aristophanes' plat "Lysistrata" as an anti war play, keeping in mind the disdain Greek men typically had for Women, it is far more likely that he meant the play as mockery of those shallow thinkers who thought that something as charged and interrelated as War, could possibly be resolved by something so simplistic as wives holding back conjugal favors from their husbands. It is not an Anti-War play, but an anti anti-war play. Antigone see's a problem, she quickly concludes not only that defiance is called for, but that mature debate is uncalled for. Yes she is brave, and stands up for her convictions... but how substantial are her convictions, and how well does she actually serve them? Does she understand the orders of the Gods regarding burial of the dead... or, perhaps with her father's errors in mind, his disdain for tradition and preference for 'smart' answers, did she just latch onto their laws with no further thought?

The fact that Sophocles thought mature discussion could have changed things, is, I think, shown by how little discussion was needed for Creon to have, in order to realize that he'd made an error, and seeks to resolve it. He's too late of course... all the people who should have maturely discussed the matter were disinclined to for one reason or another, the young woman Antigone, his son Haemon, young and smitten with her, his distraught wife; they were all either too immature or passion filled to do so, and they too acted rashly, and as a result, killed themselves.

I do think Sophocles makes a very strong point that there is such a thing as higher, Natural Law, Antigone states that correctly, but I think his deeper message is that simple 'take scenario "A", connect to idea "B" and produce result/cause "C"', is something which only the young, passionate, distraught and hubristic, would be foolish enough to dare doing. If you are seeking wisdom, it requires engagement and discussion, coolly and Reasonably.

So what does this tell us that is useful in our investigation of the Western concept of Justice?

For one thing, an action that is seemingly sensible on the surface, when considered in a broader, deeper context, those shallow and knee-jerk reactions, far from resolving such situations, tend instead to inflame them, exacerbate them, and lead to disaster (in it's most literal meaning - separation from a guiding star).

Judgment, a key factor in rendering Justice, must be rooted in a far broader context than simply those things which appear on the surface to be 'good' or 'deserved' or 'fair' or 'justified'... when we do so, our results, like Apollo's oracle Teiresias recognized, are determined by those shallow considerations and are eminently predictable. Like Oedipus, your desire to avoid and escape your fate, will be precisely what causes you to bring your deepest fears into a self fulfilled prophecy.

Merely dabbling with principles, treating them as perceptual objects that can be used without reflection, reasoning and political discussion, is little better than Oedipus's thoughtless flight and shallow calculations. Matters must be considered, weighed, discussed, and then acted upon... anything less, will only guarantee that considerably less than what is possible, will be the most that can be expected.

How do you go about doing that? How is it possible to do that? It obviously isn't simply a matter of being concerned, motivated and deeply committed - you've got to look long and hard for two people more concerned, motivated and deeply committed than Oedipus and Antigone were in their situations. And it isn't simply a matter of intelligence, again, Oedipus demonstrated a sharp intelligence in deciphering the riddle of the Sphinx, and Antigone is well aware of the consequences of her actions, she didn't just blunder into her confrontation with Creon... so what more than character and wit is required, and can reasonably be expected of a normal person?

Enter Aristotle.

ALL men by nature desire to know
This is how Aristotle began his investigation of first principles, his investigation into what underlies reality and our ability to know it,
"ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things."
But as important as the senses and curiosity are to man, Aristotle keeps them in perspective, it is quickly followed up by
""Again, we do not regard any of the senses as Wisdom; yet surely these give the most authoritative knowledge of particulars. But they do not tell us the 'why' of anything-e.g. why fire is hot; they only say that it is hot.

At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men, not only because there was something useful in the inventions, but because he was thought wise and superior to the rest. But as more arts were invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to recreation, the inventors of the latter were naturally always regarded as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of knowledge did not aim at utility. Hence when all such inventions were already established, the sciences which do not aim at giving pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered, and first in the places where men first began to have leisure. This is why the mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly caste was allowed to be at leisure.

We have said in the Ethics what the difference is between art and science and the other kindred faculties; but the point of our present discussion is this, that all men suppose what is called Wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principles of things; so that, as has been said before, the man of experience is thought to be wiser than the possessors of any sense-perception whatever, the artist wiser than the men of experience, the master worker than the mechanic, and the theoretical kinds of knowledge to be more of the nature of Wisdom than the productive. Clearly then Wisdom is knowledge about certain principles and causes."
Knowledge of those principles and causes, how to detect them and keep your thoughts and actions in align with them, and to reflect upon them in your daily life, engaging your thought in this way, is what helps you from unintentionally bringing about the doom you sought to avoid, or from needlessly sacrificing yourself to a cause that could have been resolved through such reasoning, and how to not only know the difference, but to foresee the difference.

Some key insights of Aristotle, we have let stray to our detriment.

Principle of Non-Contradiction
From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's article,
Aristotle says that Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) is one of the common axioms, axioms common to all the special sciences. It has no specific subject matter, but applies to everything that is. It is a first principle and the firmest principle... PNC does not function as a premise in any argument... PNC is not a rule of inference. Aristotle says that it is a principle which “is necessary for anyone to have who knows any of the things that are” (Metaph IV 3 1005b15). It is no mere hypothesis

Aristotle explains that, given its peculiar status as the firmest first principle, PNC is not susceptible to demonstration. A demonstration is a deductive argument. If PNC could be deduced from another premise, then that premise would have to be a firmer and prior principle, so PNC could not have been the firmest first principle. Aristotle also says that if PNC could be demonstrated, then everything would be subject to demonstration, which would lead to an infinite regress. Therefore demonstration is ruled out, and one must be wary of reconstructions of Aristotle's discussion in terms of ordinary deductive arguments. Anyone asking for a deductive argument for PNC, as Aristotle points out, is missing the point, or, rather, is asking for something that is impossible without using PNC. You cannot engage in argument unless you rely on PNC. Anyone who claims to reject PNC “for the sake of argument” is similarly misguided.

Given the impossibility of deducing PNC from anything else, one might expect Aristotle to explain the peculiar status of PNC by comparing it with other logical principles that might be rivals for the title of the firmest first principle, for example his version of the law of excluded middle—for any x and for any F, it is necessary either to assert F of x or to deny F of x. Instead, Aristotle defies others to find a prior principle (Metaph IV 4 1006a10–11).
“It is impossible for the same thing to belong and not to belong at the same time to the same thing and in the same respect” (with the appropriate qualifications) (Metaph IV 3 1005b19–20).

The second version is as follows: “It is impossible to hold (suppose) the same thing to be and not to be (Metaph IV 3 1005b24 cf.1005b29–30).”
What does all this mean?

It means that there are some things, Axioms, which simply ARE. They cannot be proven logically (gasp! There are things outside of logic? Someone get smelling salts for Sam Harris), because you have to use them in any attempt to prove them, they are below and outside the realm of logic!

Ayn Rand summed up the implications of Aristotle's first Principle of Non Contradiction in a way that is a bit more accessible for us moderns in these Axioms:
1. Existence Exists
2. What exists, exists as something having Identity - it is what it is, no matter what men might wish to the contrary
3. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving what is

In other words,
- There is no way to discuss what exists, or does not exist... without reference to 'existence'.
- You cannot discuss identity, or something's lack of identity, without reference to Identity.
- You cannot discuss consciousness, or anything outside of consciousness, without being conscious of the reference to consciousness!

They simply ARE, they are axiomatic,
  1. Existence exists,
  2. What exists, exists as some thing,
  3. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which is.

It means that the universe exists independently of Man's mind, is prior to Man's mind, and that despite Men's wishes to the contrary (and Descartes, Rousseau, Kant...), it is what it is.

What does Athens have to do with Justice?
Why are such brandy and slippers philosophical subjects of any relevance to our lives, or to any of the political perils such as we are in today? It matters because, while this may sound pointless at the outset, there is not a single theory, not a single proposition or policy of the Left which can withstand the onslaught of Aristotle's axiom, and it's implications as identified by Ayn Rand. Leftism, and all things leftist, is rooted in the denial of identity, the denial of non-contradiction, and most of all, the denial of consciousness, of man's nature; of Man having a specific and definable nature, and it is the doubt of this beginning in the modern age, by implication, with Machiavelli and Hobbes, but more explicitly with Descartes, and then flagrantly with Rousseau, Kant, Peirce, Marx & Dewey.

That denial of man's nature and his ability to know reality, has led to rivers of blood a hundred million corpses strong, and it all began from the attempt to deny what Aristotle tried to make us aware of nearly three thousand years ago.

A Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian Culture
It's common in Conservative circles to hear the first half of that dropped when speaking of our Culture, and it is, IMHO, a dangerous omission to make. Without Aristotle, and the rest of Greco/Roman culture, it is unlikely we'd have a concept of Justice at all, it is also unlikely that there would even be a 'Judeo/Christian' culture to speak of. For those Biblically minded readers who start at that, I don't mean it dismissively, but they'd do good to recall that the original New Testament was written in Greek. The growth of the early Church is inseperable from it's Roman structures - even the Pope, the Pontificus Maximus, was taken from the title of the traditional spiritual leader of Rome. And for those who focus on the 'Judeo' portion, would do well to recall that the Jews were so thoroughly Hellenized, especially in Alexandria, that the Septuagint needed to be written because the majority of Jews at that time knew more of Greek, than Hebrew.

Did Aristotle make errors in attempting to apply his Axiom? Yes, he did. Did he make errors in applying his rules of Logic? Yes. Did he make some over broad assumptions in his politics? Definitely. So why pay attention to him these thousands of years after his bones have rotted into the dirt of Greece? Because his ideas, not the mistaken use of them, but his ideas in themselves, have provided us with the tools to discover what was right, helped us to discover what made sense and how to verify it, he supplied us with the method to determine what was Just, and unjust - he, more than any other, regarding all that we in the West have gotten right, he made it possible for us to get it right.

In the first series of posts on Justice, I looked at how the ideas of Descartes, Hume & Rousseau, laid the basis for the positions of the left which have eroded the foundations of Western Civilization. Well, without the likes of Aristotle, there would have been no foundations to erode; there would have been no Cicero(the importance of his thought to our Founders ideas is difficult to overstate), there would have been no Aquinas, there would not even have been a Bacon (though he'd resent admitting that), and there certainly would have been no John Locke, and so no Sam Adams, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison - in short, there would have been no America, had Plato not taken a precocious junior genius from the boondocks of Stagira, Aristotle, into his Academy, 2,500 years ago.

If you don't want to take my word for it, try that of John Adams, who
"... responded indignantly to an accout fo Frederick the Great's dream, in which HOmer and Virgil returned to Earth to burn their works in frustration at the superiority of Voltaire's writings. Adams grumbled:"His adulation of Voltaire is babyish. He knew nothing of Homer or Virgil. He was totally ignorant of the languages of both"... "In 1807 he quoted from Juvenal's Satires(10.265) regarding Aaron Burr:"All Divinities are absent if Prudence is absent." By then Adams' library contained the complete works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Tacitus, Sallust, Livy, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Ovid Lucretius, Cicero, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius..." [from "The Founders and the Classics", Carl J. Richard]
We are a Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian Nation, that is true, and without the first half of that term, the 2nd half would have been unlikely ever to come to pass, certainly not in any way recognizable to how we know it today.

The Founding Fathers modeled our government, and our ideas of law and citizenship, heavily upon what they found best in the cultures of Greece and Rome, and without them, we would not be who we became. Which, IMHO, is the main reason why the classics were Target #1 of the Proregressives educationista policies - they worked tirelessly to dehumanize the Humanities, to 'eliminate the classics from all curriculum'! Which they pretty much had succeeded in doing by the early 1900's.

Our Founders education was centered around a knowledge of Greek and Latin, of not only imbibing Homer, Virgil, Plutarch, Cicero, but of arguing propositions in disputations before the class with other students, and against their Masters. That method, the Scholastic Method (derided today as exercises in 'How many angels can dance on the head of a pin'), meant that Teachers had to actually understand their subject, and how it integrated with other subjects - the modern practice of of merely prepping for a PowerPoint presentation of a subject matter they knew little better than their students, would not have been possible in the schools and colleges of the Founders era (if you can find a copy of "Education Of The Founding Fathers Of The Republic -Scholasticism In The Colonial Colleges" by James Walsh, get it, or you can find it online here, it is an excellent description of this).

We can see the results of that around us today, with uninspired students of uninspiring teachers, neither teaching nor learning anything worthwhile or well. In schools today we are drilled in facts and disintegrated details in order to acquire useful 'skills', but it does not compare with an integrated view of life, a worthy life centered around attaining Virtue, and engaging in disputatious argument as a chief tool for learning and understanding not only that particular subject at hand, but its dependence upon the other subjects in the curriculum, and for the purpose of not merely acquiring 'skills', but of learning to learn how to attain a life worth living.

The former 'educational' method, is suited only to calculations of 'fairness' and 'equality', while the later is concerned with achieving an Education which will be concerned with Justice in nearly every respect.

Next post, a glance into Aristotle's Logic and Politics, and their continuing relevance to our understanding of Justice today.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Their Ends Are Their Means!

I'm interrupting my posts for an update on what the true meaning of the Proregressive Left is all about... I don't know of a better way of illustrating my point, than by it's negative reflection here, in this Gateway Pundit post about our Safe Schools czar.

Scream. Yell. Demand heads on platters.

I've been saying for years now, that our problems began in the schools, and so they did.

If you are a leftist and you are shocked, then you need to look at what it is you think you believe, because this my friend is it! This graphic horror is a pure distillation of exactly what the left 'believes' and has always taught, it only shocks you now because it is without its camoflauge of 'intellectualism'.

What shocked our Grandparents, doesn't cause our children to blink, more likely they'll giggle and ask for more. Shock, inure, shock harder, inure again, repeat, rinse, do it again. Every time the Right thinks it has trounced the Left, they've been wrong, the left is only waiting for it's latest outrage to become the norm, before returning stronger than before.

The Proregressive Left raises it's head for a time, as with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, then it crawls back down into the ground like Cicada's, where it reforms and returns as with something like FDR, then it hides again. Comes back with Jimmy Carter, hides... returns with Clinton... hides... but have you noticed, that the interim periods are becoming less and less their opposition?

Compare and contrast the clearly Classical Liberal conservatism of Calvin Coolidge, with the Govt friendly Eisenhower, with the progressive republican Nixon, Reagan only seemed a conservative resurgence because of his core message, but look at the programs and policies he also established... after all, he said he was an FDR Democrat, but the party left him to the Republican party... and that is indeed accurate. The Republican party of moved towards the left and cheerfully scooped up the stragglers who couldn't stomach the progressively exposed nature of the left. Bush 41 was even more less Right than Reagan. Bush 43 felt that 'destroying the free market in order to save it' was the pragmatic right thing to do.

How truth-full that is.

The left seems to hide, but it doesn't, not really, it only redoubles its strength in the schools. It slowly, then with increasing strength, injects it's venom in our intellectual bloodstream, and slowly but surely spreads the destruction of all Western Ideas and Ideals in it's wake.

This example of Obama's "Safe School Czar" is no an anomaly, it is not a slip up, it is just a very graphic example of what they have been teaching all along.

Their ends are their means.

We must arm ourselves with the only weapon that can have any lasting effect - Education, education in the vein of what those who founded this country knew it to be.

We don't have much time left, but I tell you, there is No progress possible as long as they have hold of our schools. And don't think your private school is an escape, for their teachers all come certified from the same leftist 'Teachers Schools' which were their first beachhead in our world.

We MUST Educate ourselves, and defeat them!

***Related Update***
Btw, this example of the wackademic administration of Washington University in St. Louis attempting to bully students who oppose the leftist line, is another example of the left in action. Always posturing as bastions of free speech, while stomping any opposing view to death at every opportunity.

Fight them!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Liberal Mind of a Conservative - what may not be known - Must be known

Hyphenated books - hyphenated Americans - A House Divided
I just watched a panel discussion following a talk on books that should be read in college, and where despite many fine and good things were said (as well as a couple doozies - here's a low and a high from the same panelist, Benjamin Wiker, admiringly quoting Leo Strauss that "Locke was just Hobbes sugar coated" which illustrates why I dislike Strauss, and have reservations about Wiker's mostly good book "Ten books that screwed up the world", followed at the end by a gem from him "Read the 'Lord of the Rings', it's all about the Shire, and the Orc's are in the Shire now!"), and several fine recommendations for oft neglected material to be read (including one you rarely hear mentioned at all, excerpt below), towards the end of the panel, when it came to the Q&A, they referred to 'conservative-books' that should be read in order to promote 'conservative-thought'.

That's a problem, I think.

One of the speakers, Wiker again [?], did make the point, a good one, that his goal of his fighting is to be able to sit on his porch having coffee with his wife and with his kids playing in the yard - all else is done in order to preserve the ability to do that.

That is true - down to a particular level - that is true. But there is more depth to be considered, and if neglected... that scene may be compromised.

Books should be read for the pleasure and enjoyment of being read - and that is far, far, from a light thing to say, the process of reading and being drawn into participating in what Matthew Arnold called "Sweetness and Light" (full volume here) or the Good, the Beautiful and the True, no matter the overt subject matter, that experience is inherently a conservative matter.

But that hints at a meaning or purpose of Conservative that is in danger of not being conserved.

Being a conservative is a fine thing, if you know what your are conserving, and why - and of course if what you think you know is true. If not, on any of those points, you are potentially a danger in any land in which you choose to be a conservative. And if that country is the nation of the United States of America, a nation founded upon an Idea and the full history which gave rise to it, and you don't know that, and perhaps seek to conserve notions at odds with that vital central idea, then your conservation may be nearly as poisonous to the republic as the leftist vitriol you see yourself battling against.

To be an American, is to understand and love, fiercely, an ideal, and at the same time, to recognize that others who may be unlike you in numerous ways, perhaps even at odds with you on numerous points, are nonetheless your natural allies - allies which are needed in order to defend the nation you love. If you mistake your incidental differences for fundamentals, you will be at war with your fellow Americans, and as Lincoln restated - "A house divided against itself cannot stand".

The confusion is that many of these incidentals which divide us often seem to be fundamentals, because they are fundamental to your life and your values... but that does not necessarily make them fundamental principles of Americanism. Some examples are:

Religion - whether between religions, their denominations or vs atheism
Education - degree'd or not degreed
Socio-economic - 'class' Business owner, manager or worker
Political affiliation - Republican, Libertarian, Independent or Democrat
Age or generation - 'greatest generation', boomer, Gen x, 00's, etc.

None of these, in and of themselves, are fundamentals which necessarily divide an American from an anti-American - if you think that any of them are, then I challenge you to re-examine your premises. Not even that which Conservatives often consider a defining watermark, whether or not you are Religious (if not Christian), or that which Libertarians consider the deal breaker, use of govt force, or Democrats concern over whether or not the underdog is being protected.

They may well often be visible traits of those who are anti-American, but they are not what defines them as being such, in statistician speak, they may be correlative, but they are not causal factors.

What is?

Oh... should I go for the easy answer?... whether to toss it out there to be glanced at and dismissed with a nod or a shake... no, not gonna do it yet, the easy answer is also the non-longwinded answer, and that sure ain't me! But the answer is at the heart of this series of posts I've been doing on Justice, and we are getting closer to the heart. And it is something around which the fundamentalist, the libertarian, the bleeding heart, can, and must, unite. That doesn't mean that we should "all just get along" - in fact such a thing might be a more troubling sign of disease, rather than civil health - but we must understand that as violently in opposition our preferences might seem to be, as were Madison's & Hamilton's, Jefferson's & Adams's, we still can be in agreement on our core principles, and recognizing that, remain, or regain, respect and friendship and polity, as did Adams and Jefferson in later years after their political strife's had passed.

CHAP. IX.: Two Causes which destroyed Rome. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 3 (Grandeur and Declension of the Roman Empire) [1721]

"Authors enlarge very copiously on the divisions which proved the destruction of Rome; but their readers seldom discover those divisions to have been always necessary and inevitable. The grandeur of the republic was the only source of that calamity, and exasperated popular tumults into civil wars. Dissentions were not to be prevented, and those martial spirits, which were so fierce and formidable abroad, could not be habituated to any considerable moderation at home. Those who expect in a free state, to see the people undaunted in war and pusillanimous in peace, are certainly desirous of impossibilities; and it may be advanced as a general rule, that whenever a perfect calm is visible, in a state that calls itself a republic, the spirit of liberty no longer subsists.

Union, in a body politic, is a very equivocal term: true union is such a harmony as makes all the particular parts, as opposite as they may seem to us, concur to the general welfare of the society, in the same manner as discords in music contribute to the general melody of sound. Union may prevail in a state full of seeming commotions; or, in other words, there may be an harmony from whence results prosperity, which alone is true peace, and may be considered in the same view, as the various parts of this universe, which are eternally connected by the action of some and the reaction of others.

In a despotic state indeed, which is every government where the power is immoderately exerted, a real division is perpetually kindled. The peasant, the soldier, the merchant, the magistrate, and the grandee have no other conjunction than what arises from the ability of the one to oppress the other, without resistance; and if at any time a union happens to be introduced, citizens are not then united, but dead bodies are laid in the grave contiguous to each other.

It must be acknowledged that the Roman laws were too weak to govern the republic: but experience has proved it to be an invariable fact, that good laws, which raise the reputation and power of a small republic, become incommodious to it, when once its grandeur is established, because it was their natural effect to make a great people, but not to govern them.

The difference is very considerable between good laws, and those which may be called convenient; between such laws as give a people dominion over others, and such as continue them in the possession of power, when they have once acquired it."
There is a lot to that passage from Montesquieu, and it points towards our goal, which I'll pursue next time with Sophocles, Aristotle and Cicero.