Thursday, December 31, 2015

Snapping snap judgments, lest auld acquaintance be forgot - The Rule of Law in Progress or Regress pt-6a

Give me three steps...
As the old year slips out and the New Year opens up, it's a particularly good time to ask questions that have to do with what is timeless... lest auld acquaintance with them should be forgot. And while it might not seem so, on the surface, these questions we've been asking most definitely involve issues that are timeless - see if you can see how. For instance: Where do you think you fit in, in today's world, are you Pro-Progress, or Pro-Regress? Are you for the Rule of Law, or the Rule of Rules? Are the 'Big Ideas' of Western Civilization something you think much about, or do you mostly shrug them off and just kinda make a snap judgment on various news stories that happen to flit into your view, now and then... and then forget about 'em? Or are you one of the many of us who don't see the point of considering such questions at all, especially not in the midst of the current events raging around us today - ''I'm not getting sucked into THAT mess!'? I hate to cast a pall upon the coming New Year, but I have a sad suspicion that what most people think doesn't matter, isn't going to matter much longer.

Can anyone really think that the precious snowflakes on our college campuses, or the SJW (Social Justice Warriors) brigades in our streets who are openly advocating to eliminate the Freedom of Speech, or 'unbiased' newscasters talking openly of how those they violently disagree with are 'enemies of the state', can anyone really think that these types are going to be tolerant towards those who say 'Oh, I don't pay attention to that stuff' for much longer? How much longer? And when that vocal 'majority' refuses to allow others the choice to either disagree or evade deciding, what do you suppose is going to be the reaction of those who do disagree with them, and what options will they have to do so?

Will the one side have any option left open to them, but to take the other side at their own words, as being their enemies?

No, the time is coming where all will have to decide, one way or the other, where they stand on these issues, because they are what is driving our current events, and your place within them, and brushing them off cannot remain an option much longer. Each person is going to have to choose what they support, and what they will reject. But for those who haven't been paying attention, those - Left, Right, Libertarian and the target rich Moderate center - who've been coasting along on the strength of their snap judgments on this and that - what are they going to base those decisions upon?

A snap judgment? Based upon popular memes? Or a headline? Written by who?

For those who haven't been paying attention, or have, but haven't given much thought to the ideas driving our current events, or even worse than that, those who have been paying attention but have simply assumed that they understood what was best because of what they've familiar with, or comfortable with, or someone dear to them had said was so and so they assumed it was so - however it is that you are coming at these questions, what I hope to do in this post is to prod you to make some of those snap judgments on one of three key positions that, from my own experience in studying and engaging in discussions, disagreements, debates and out and out freak outs with people, I've found to be solid indicators of where their inclinations and assumptions lie, and then I'll toss a little contrast into the mix to hopefully snap your snap judgments open to a perspective you'll find worth considering further.

Especially as the New Year we are entering into, is an election year that will set the course for so many years to come, whether you pursue Progress or Pro-Regress is no light or laughing matter, what you are deciding is whether you will lend moral and physical support to living under the Rule of Law, or to being Ruled by Rules - politically, yes, but intellectually, psychologically and spiritually as well - and your own Progress or Regress will follow as surely as one moment will tick you into the next.

Humming the right tune
Beginning at the beginning, what's your snap judgment on the idea of The West's Big Ideas being somehow important and involved in your everyday life? Far fetched? Pedantic? Outlandish? Duh?

Contrast that question with

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thoughtful Images - Turning to the Rule of Law without turning away - The Rule of Law in Progress or Regress pt-5

Navigating the turns in the fog
How do you bring the clouds down to the ground, without bringing a thick fog along with it? Those higher principles and maxims of law that I sketched in the last post, they've helped define the nature and trajectory of Western thought on law, and the next post is going to have to touch on broader, higher ideals than those... but what do they have to do with our daily lives? How could they have anything to do with your daily struggles to pay the bills, raise the kids right, plan vacations and college, and so on... and on and on and on? Well... not all that much... other than having everything to do with every single bit of every one of those daily concerns.

But who could, would, or will, believe that? Do you?

I'll betcha that when you read "higher principles and maxims of law" a certain mental image came into your mind just at the thought of it. Hold that thought. Hold it, and be aware that many peoples thoughts are full of it. The image I mean. An image, some image, sometimes several images, rather than the thoughts themselves. That's where the fog comes rolling in.
I'd intended to finish this series of posts on the Rule of Law vs its Doppelganger in the Rule of Rules, before Thanksgiving, but I could see that in trying to distinguish between the things as they actually are, and how they are popularly made to appear to be, I couldn't get around taking note of another factor that I'd hoped to leave for later, and that's the mental images which we picture such ideas with, often keep us from actually considering such ideas at all.

For instance, when I say Philosopher, or Roman, Law, John Locke, Founding Fathers...Republic, Democracy, Socialism... there are images that come to mind for you. Such mental images are  normal, useful tools of thought, they serve as the icons or captions in our mental Wikipedia, linking to the judgments we've arrived at as a result of thinking things through, making it possible to mention such topics in conversation and proceed on to further thoughts without having to rehash all of the facts and arguments behind them every time a subject comes up; they guide and speed our thinking.

But if you're not careful about what types of mental images you associate with which ideas, or where those images came from, or even whether there is any of your own thinking behind them, the thinking they are useful for, might not be your own.
What's an image selling you?

Mental images are useful as links or even placeholders, but they are no substitute for information, let alone thinking, yet that is exactly what they are sometimes used in place of. Francis Bacon isn't one of my favorites, but despite differences with the details, I think he would have gotten the difficulty here, particularly with his 'Idols of the Cave', and even moreso with the frustratingly little there is that we can do about it, that is, there's nothing that "We" can do about it, only "I" can.

What you can do about it, begins with noticing the types of mental images you associate with topics - if they take the form of conclusions or ridicule, they tend to divert further thought, rather than encourage it. For instance, the mental image you associate with Socialism might be that of 'Fool!', or 'a threat to a life worth living', or on the other hand 'Ideal!' or 'Making society more fair!'. The first on either hand tends to hurry your thinking along, the second can as well, but they also leave an opening for further thought - 'What makes a life worth living, and how is that a threat?' or 'What is meant by fair, and how does it make society fair?' Either question is useful for further thinking whether you are in favor of or opposed to it, but 'Fool!' and 'Ideal!' guard against any such openings for further thought.

As Bacon said, there's not a lot you can do, but that little bit, drawing your attention to the problem, the failure to question, can help a lot.

Just don't get your hopes up.

For it turns out that when forming their mental images, many people do accept that a picture is worth a thousand words, not realizing that in doing so they accept all of those words meaning without ever really considering or understanding them, all of which helps us to convey much less than words can say, and then conversation and thought can make no further progress, as your go-to mental image steps in to do your thinking for you.

This is less a matter of Left and Right, than of being human.

The mental images you associate with Socialism, for instance,

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

President Obama finally stands up... to the Oval Office.

So President Obama gave a speech from the Oval Office, while standing at a podium, instead of sitting at his desk. Whatever image or sensitivity that was suppose to display... I don't much care. What I do care about is what he actually said, and so, I'm going to reply to it with about as much care as he seems to have given to writing it. IOW: Here comes yet another rant. Damn this is getting tiring.

The speech's transcription is here if you'd like to read along, but either way there are a few sentences, from the opening, and one from the close, that I'd like you to keep fixed in mind - these from the opening:
"So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people."
, and this from the ending:
"...Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL..."
What President Obama is acknowledging, is that there is no evidence that these terrorists were directed by terrorist organizations, that they were motivated by islamist radicalization, that they are at war with America and the West, and that we are at war with ISIS. While I'm amazed that he got that much right, it is nearly the only thing he got right in his speech, and even so he fails to give it any meaning.

Let's go through it, and then you can let me know if you think I've missed something - just be prepared to explain why.

Moving on.
"As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino."[emphasis mine]
When did President Obama first realize this? Why was he so reluctant to state it openly? Why did it take an act of Congress for those wounded in the attacks at Fort Hood to be recognized as being the result of 'terrorists... less complicated attacks', rather than the lesser designation of 'workplace violence' fought for five years to label them as, depriving them of the status and benefits of war related actions?
"As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people."
Damn right. BTW, upholding our Laws is first on that list. But if President Obama does realize that that's the case, then please explain this:
"Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us."
I refer you back to the quote above. In that President Obama said that San Bernardino wasn't the result of an organized attack, and that we are at war with ISIS. Is he unaware that ISIS's chief strategy, stated openly since their inception, and demonstrated again and again (Paris, etc.), is to incite and call for 'lone wolf' attacks? If not, he should resign. But if so, why is he now proposing a strategy designed entirely around organized attacks coming from established organizations? Has he never heard the folly of fighting the new war by the rules of the last war?