Any notion that the US military exists or can be justified for the purpose of “foreign aid” runs into well-conditioned political reflexes – against wasting lives or resources or money or anything at all on ungrateful foreigners; in favor of a military purposed for, as they say, hurting people and breaking things – but surely there are few supporters of the American military who conceive of it as a “global force for evil,” or as a completely neutral force. Continue reading →
The Chris & Cliff Paul ads for State Farm are unsettling.
I could narrate the nightmarish historical grotesques that flash through my mind when I see these commercials, but the result would inevitably recapitulate the same mixture of the ridiculous and the obscene. Anyone ought to be able to do it themselves. I’ll just ask in what kind of society would it be possible to separate identical twins at birth, and bring them together at some later date just to see how they react to each other? In what kind of society, or social system, would it be possible for such a long-term experiment on two human beings to be carried out?
Though easily turned into a cliché, and an obnoxious one, the notion of the childless and in that sense socially remote thinker or artist who sublimates a defeated bid for mere genetic immortality as greatness, of the individual for whom art or philosophy or science or religion is procreation by other means, and as near to the divine as ever achieved or achievable by human exertion, remains indispensable, in part because the alternative looks something like this: Continue reading →
I think the crucial question when you say, regarding the idea of “constitutional disobedience,” that “we should account for our use of it,” is the eternal “Whom do you mean by ‘we’?” Since political constitution is constitution of the collective, in debating the constitution we are debating possible answers to that question. For the purposes of this inquiry, if we mean “you, me, and the participants at this blog,” or, more broadly, “interested if mostly powerless people in general,” then the discussion is by definition unimportant. Whether we “should” or not is not a great matter, and these little or lesser “we”‘s are nothing except our freedom to play around with notions too big for us, with any regard for consequences seeming quite pretentious. If, however, we are or imagine ourselves to be in contention with the greater we; if, even if we know ourselves as the lesser we, we presume that we should speak as though we are or might be of relevance to the greater we; or if we at all suspect that we might become of relevance to the greater we; if we think should remain conscious of that risk however small, then there might be problems for little-us to consider. Continue reading →
The American dream is a lie. This idea that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything — that’s very individualistic. Who’s that really about? Who is that serving? Who is that for? It’s for me. It’s a pursuit of happiness that doesn’t create happiness. There’s nothing with any substance at the end of that. So, if you work hard enough, are you going to defeat cancer? If you work hard enough, are you going to be happy with your job? If you work hard enough, and get a big bank account, does that create happiness? No!
I will not call Dreher a liar, but he is offering a false or exaggeratedly simplistic definition of the Dream that happens to suit his polemic.
For Jaybird, the main reference of “post-theist” seems to be to the individual non-/believer’s state of belief. Jaybird was a believer in God, but now is not: “There’s just something about throwing the mantle off, rather than never having worn it.” That “something” suggests the familiar liberationist affect or frisson, excitement of the newborn modern at or as the death throes of all divines, though we may also see ourselves as too late in the historical day to experience that excitement except as a matter of nostalgia, imitatively. De-divinization may have lost its luster, perhaps never more than the twisted reflection of a phantom, the bare ideational existence of a non-existent. Post-theism, or its possibility, whether or not experienced as an apparently inner state of belief, must also reflect an historical, common, or social-cultural condition or tendency of belief, the sense that, whatever else we know or believe, we also know that there was a god perhaps indistinguishable from or never more than the belief or belief in the belief, so never completely un-believed either, or there was God for us, once for all of us, but that He/She/It has been brought down or that we have brought Him/Her/It down, have assassinated or superseded It, somewhat as in the Nietzschean completion of the possibility anticipated by Luther and Hegel, and, according to a few mystics, gnostics, heretics, and materialists, the Christian myth always and essentially. Continue reading →
Because the idea of “terror” is a definitional and circumscribing topic for our “way of life,” perhaps for ways of life at all, we should not be surprised if it is not merely difficult to define, but ends up seeming to connect everything to everything – if every particular question explodes like a conceptual bomb striking ever other question in the vicinity.
That any bomb is a “WMD” for purposes of the law might merely be a typical instance of a legal designation differing from a popular or political one, but the law may on occasion have the better of such distinctions. The point for the law seems to be that engaging in “mass destruction” is immediately a crime against society, an attack on (the) people as well as an attack on particular persons. The federal terrorism statute just encodes the understanding that in making a bomb a criminal shows a disregard for life: Continue reading →
Still intend “light to no posting,” but couldn’t resist extending dialogue at the League on “Playing With Constitutional Fire,” an informative and thoughtful post by lawyer Burt Likko that also inspired some useful discussion. My main comment was approximately as follows (I’ve done some post-”submit” proofing, and added some I hope helpful notes):
Well, thanks for indulging me, as I see now I got a little carried away with paradoxes of civic religion on an abstract level. I don’t disagree with you on the practical-political question, but I also don’t presume that my agreement or disagreement matters to anyone practically-politically. I’m more interested in the theoretical questions.
So, on the latter score, we may be able to distinguish between a declaration of “establishment” and an actual or effective establishment.
The 1st Amendment even read as applying to Congress only, in combination with the No Religious Test Clause, would seem to make actual establishment virtually impossible at least for now, since a declared-established religion with no supporting legal or administrative structure would be an empty signifier. President Obama could declare the Navajo Way the official established religion of the United States, and the main effect would be on his political future, possibly involving the 25th Amendment, not on the actual status in law and society of the Navajo Way. Continue reading →
For some time now, I have been feeling increasingly distracted by pressing and unfinished real world business, especially looking toward April 15. I’ll still be monitoring comments, so please feel free to continue any discussions, or start up new ones, or make suggestions for me or the blog, whether on this thread or on recent pieces or on ones from months or years ago.
I’d be happy to hear from lurkers, too. According to site stats, there are more of them, or you, around than I would have thought, even after accounting for web crawling robots and people surfing in semi-randomly on searches for “stalin dead free borsht” or “zombie miguel cervantes.”
It’s understandable that Diehl is interpreted by Pillar and others to be “repeating the flypaper theory of counterterrorism,” but Diehl’s statement “in Iraq, the United States faced down al-Qaeda and eventually dealt it a decisive defeat” does not make a “flypaper” claim. It merely asserts that an AQ threat did arise in Iraq, and was actively combated and defeated. (How “decisively” it was defeated is another question, however, that Diehl’s own subsequent analysis complicates.) Diehl does not make any claim at all as to the origin of AQ in Iraq, except, perhaps, as implicit in his observation of an AQ affiliate rising in Syria without US military intervention playing a role. In other words, in Iraq and Syria as in any other contemporary Islamic (more precisely “Islamicate”) society, extreme political de-stabilization will tend to be accompanied by the rise of Islamist radical groups. As many Iraq War proponents will likely also acknowledge, this problem was not adequately, or anywhere near adequately, anticipated during Iraq war planning, but the simplistic argument against the simplistic flypaper theory may not be much better than the flypaper theory itself, or anyway may be inadequate to the Syrian situation.
In addition to not making the argument that it is claimed he has made, Diehl does address the questions that the blogger at the end of the post (again) claims he doesn’t address. Continue reading →
miguel cervantes: Btw, the Boadicea of the Borealis, is back.
miguel cervantes: Interesting, however that doesn't explain the full spectrum nature of PRISM, or any of the other programs,
miguel cervantes: http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/artemisia.shtml
miguel cervantes: Well following Greenwald down the rabbit hole, always seemed a dodgy exercise, Le Carre's at the end of the Singularity,
CK MacLeod: Tried to like the latest Die Hard. Wasn't all that easy. It sorta passed the time, but the scenario was so contrived it required clumsy exposition that still didn't really explain things. Will be easily one of the best films of the year though for those whose main cinematic interest is trucks and helicopters crashing and exploding. Also very sentimentally into "dad" issues so a good Father's Day movie even beyond the normal "guy movie" aspect.
miguel cervantes: They threw in a mcGuffin like they did in Die Hard with the Army major, who was Colonel Stuart, (the Oliver North manque) which sort of subverted the point of the story.
If any serious attempt to define the American national interest leads us to an overdetermining or geographically, political-economically, and ideologically mutually conditioning internationalism or transnational impetus, borne out in the great events and ideas and seemingly inexorable material processes of the last two centuries, resulting in the state of the world as we know it, then nation-state Realism in relationship to America turns itself inside out or upside down.→
The United State of America, by process of geographical and historical election, and by related ideological pre-disposition, plays a unique role in the administration of the global state interest, a role seemingly little understood by many whose occupations and pre-occupations are explaining, arguing about, and, in some places, denying it.→
In the libertarian imagination or, as Professor Hanley prefers, the libertarian psyche, the reduction in the power of government (or "government") means an increase in power for each libertarian or for the individual, which latter, as individuality, is presented as an ideal, but which each individual knows exclusively and therefore universally only through and as him- or herself. The libertarians do not recognize popularly sovereign liberal-democratic government as an extension of themselves, or, put more precisely, of this self. They may exploit or even admire democratic impulses and particular constitutional traditions, but their views are in this sense profoundly anti-democratic and constitutionally anti-constitutional.→
What may be "unreasonable" is any belief that in the final analysis hard and fast distinctions along Isquith's lines – between a human rights regime and a neo-imperial regime – can ever remain very hard or fast, or sustainable at all. Put differently, "Responsibility to Protect" may be inherently and objectively imperialistic or neo-imperialistic, may pre-suppose a global state and global guardian of its interests, but saying so may confirm that the neo-imperial interest, which most of us may embrace more or less unconsciously, includes values, goals, and norms that we consider universal and as a matter of irrevocable and foundational commitment.→
Precisely because you are deafened, however, you cannot hear anyone explaining the fact to you, or trying to direct you to shelter: Philosophy says to you, "You can't hear me - let's go somewhere quiet," but you of course cannot make out the words, nor will you read its lips (perhaps you are also blinded by the lightning flashes).→