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Culture, Literature, Politics

This is probably going to be a very long and rambling post with only sketchily drawn connections between various ideas.

More below…

Lately we seem to have entered a heightened news cycle. One of the first things I’ll note is the extreme amount of political ads that I am being subjected to, osmotically, in the months before the elections. In some ways I am looking forward to McCain-Feingold’s uncostitutional restriction on political advertising because it means I won’t have to see some grinning gladhand on TV trying to manipulate me without providing any substantive information.

On the other hand, I’m particularly irked about the unconstitutionality of McCain-Feingold in response to general changes perceived in the news media. As little as five years ago one could make a compelling case for, if not the illusion of objectivity then at least a fair-minded presentation of the news. What happens when we enter the pre-elections blackout on political advertisement — But the single biggest piece of political propaganda, the nightly news, continues to run? No doubt if the national media weren’t explicitly counting on that, they would’ve raised a huge cry against McCain-Feingold. I think in a lot of ways the media views the abridgement of first amendment rights, with an exception for themselves, as beneficial. Although not explicit, it implicitly creates a privileged class that only they inhabit, and that, in-turn, enables them to be more openly partisan in news coverage.

Why is Mark Foley news? Who the hell cares? The only things even remotely interesting about the personal improprieties of a politician are how the news media wants to present itself as some kind of superior entity when its own actions in covering up this issue until a politically opportune time clearly compromise it, and the utterly insane reaction of the hard left. The fake blog that broke the story is almost certainly an arm either of the newsmedia or some other leftist organization that wanted to use this as a smear without getting their own hands dirty.

Regarding the insanity of the hard left, sometime ago on Digg I found a link to this urban dictionary listing for “Republican pedophiles.” It’s amazing to me that some people can be so brain-damaged by the party politics in this country that they jump on clearly false and immoral bandwagons like this one. Pedophilia is not directed towards sixteen year olds, nor is a sixteen year old boy some kind of mindless baa-ing sheep to be led around blindly by authority figures. It’s most likely not a good idea to put someone who is sexually interested in those boys in a position of authority over them, but I think it’s pretty obvious that this is a situation of political opportunism triumphing over principle. All you need to do is look at the behavior regarding, say, Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, the Boy Scouts fiasco, or gay marriage in general to realize that this is so. According to this article, articles like this Republican pedophiles listing are being pushed to the top of Digg via a concerted effort by the “ThinkProgress” community (how progressive), and, particularly objectionably, paid employees dedicated to promoting ThinkProgress via Digg.

But the news media is never going to implicate itself in the Foley issue, and the hard left seems to be out of control these days. In either case it seems like Foley has more people riled up than, say, Iranian or North Korean nuclear weapons. For certain these immediate threats of nuclear destruction seem to take on less importance in the public discourse than, say, whether McDonalds should be prosecuted for selling food that people glut themselves on. It’s like the entire system of mental discrimination and triage in crises has been turned upside down where relatively unimportant problems (for one reason or another) are made into systemic world problems and important world issues, such as nuclearization of hostile and unstable foreign powers is something to ignore, or, at best, delegate to those philosopher-king paragons of virtue at the United Nations.

I look at these attitudes and wonder if it’s all connected somehow. Here’s a “poem” by Eve Ensler, a talentless hack, ideologue, and hatemonger:

Since GEORGE BUSH really got in power by corporate take over and not election. Since he has behaved like a CEO of a huge corporation called U.S.A. supporting profit in all cases over human interests, we should treat him the way they would treat him in any corporation and

FIRE HIS ASS

When you start with a major surplus and end up with a huge huge deficit they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you fail to move a company forward, they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you are lazy and take vacations at a time of peril, they

FIRE YOUR LAZY ASS

When you don’t prepare for terrible outcomes and then lose thousands of lives and insane amounts of money they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you lie to your stockholders and board and then spend nearly 1.3 trillion dollars and kill hundreds of thousands of people for no reason that makes sense to anyone, they

FIRE YOUR ASS

Sometimes they even put you in prison.

When you openly practice racist policies whether they want to or not, they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you openly break the law, order torture and get caught they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you hire people who are ignorant and incompetent, they

FIRE YOUR ASS

When you destroy the brand of a company
and alienate potential buyers all over the world, they

FIRE YOUR ASS

We are the shareholders of the U.S.A.
Bush has bankrupted our company, our pocketbooks,
but mainly our soul.
We need to remove this president and his staff
and we need to do it now.

FIRE HIS ASS.

Is the inability to discriminate between importance and unimportance, moral and immoral, politics and partisan insanity, also the cause of an inability to discriminate between good and bad? I despair to see things, or people, like this, presented as art or artists. To me, that speaks of an inverted universe, where hate and deceit and destruction and all the blackness of the human heart is celebrated over what is beautiful, true, and good.

At Columbia University we have a group of smug college students convinced of their own moral superiority rushing the stage of a speaker, disrupting the event, engaging in a brawl, and generally acting like the thugs they consistently try to paint their opponents as. Even Jon Stewart criticizes the students. A blow to their self-esteem, no doubt, but unfortunately, like Sauron, the withering eye of Jon Stewart does not often look into his own borders. Things like the Columbia incident occur every day, this one was only remarkable because the video clearly exposed and dispelled the partisan spin the students were attempting to generate. Their narrative never had a chance to take root and assert itself as “true,” but elsewhere in the absence of the sunlight of video, it grows unabated. Steven wrote a post over on Chicago Boyz about how there seems to be an increasing reliance upon fantasy and alternate reality conspiracy theory among these sorts of people.

On a related note to Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, we also have a series of shootings in schools. First the Colorado shooting, then shortly after the Amish shooting. I was engaged in a discussion on these events with one of my female friends and she was distraught, rightfully so, but not only merely over the events but also at the suggestion that part of the blame lies on the shoulders of those who left. And, though I hate to put blame on those people, seeing a gun pointed at you by some dishevelled madman being a situation I have never encountered… The fact that no one attempted to disable the attacker, in either circumstance, demonstrates a serious problem with our culture. The stronger members of our society, and yes, that does mean sixteen year old boys when in a classroom half-filled with sixteen year old girls, have a responsibility to help those who are weaker or less able.

I find it amazing that many people still have not absorbed the understanding that cooperating with someone who is deranged and armed is like signing your own death certificate. At least if you fight you have a chance to survive. Unconvincing as I may find the fatalism, we must all die and a death to protect another, or in a struggle, is more honorable than a death in which one was complicit. And, I think, in a larger sense the concept also holds to dealing with places like Iran or North Korea. I don’t know, in particular, how my friend feels about our foreign policy towards these two countries, but I expect there’s more than a casual relationship between the attitude that one should cooperate with criminals and the attitude towards spending years in negotiations with megalomaniacal dictators.

For a little over a month now Jeff Goldstein has been largely absent from Protein Wisdom, but in his stead many people have been guest posting. Matoko Kusanagi, known on Protein Wisdom as Nishizono, proposed an interesting theory of looking at jihaadis as participants in a modern ghost dance. Although interesting I’m not convinced it’s a useful way to think about our current conflict, as it elides the real problem of the “ghost dancers” being suicidally driven and enabled by modern technology to carry out large scale destruction with a minimum of organization and personnel.

Now, a few months ago I read another post by Steven on Chicago Boyz, this one was about lack of unity in the United States. And one of the interesting things that came about from that was this particular comment by Shannon Love about a hammer-and-nail problem. That is to say, that our society rewards a certain type of conflict resolution (nonviolent, consensus-building) and the way that this psychologically impacts our relationships with countries that have no similar tradition of arbitration. A few months ago I had the opportunity to hear a talk by the infamous philosopher Peter Singer, and one of the things in particular that struck me at the time was the ways in which his proposals for real-life change rewarded a so-called academic mindset. I think that is well-and-good for civil situations, but in the modern international climate of bloody dictators and unbelievable corruption it’s fantastic, to say the least.

Also found by the comments on Steven’s post, I found a link to this essay by “Gagdad Bob” / Robert Godwin. The essay is on what Godwin perceives as a “ghost dance” by the left side of the political spectrum. It’s a little strange to me to go from “never” hearing about the ghost dance to hearing about it applied to two trends of the modern world within the space of a few weeks. Either way, Godwin is one of my new favorite bloggers. Via Godwin’s blog, One Cosmos, I found this link to Dr. Sanity discussing the Columbia stage-rushing event. Here is another Dr. Sanity article on Victor Davis Hanson on the surrender of liberal values in the face of multiculturalism(ie, tribalism).

Found via Gene Expression, I see this Financial Times article on research by Robert Putnam on [tribalism’s] negative effects on society. Is this any surprise to anyone? How about the angry protests to Jack Straw’s suggestion that Muslim women take off their veils when they go to see him? Is it really unreasonable to ask a person who is sitting five feet away from you to take off clothing that masks their face from you?

I have so much despair in hearing these things. It seems like we need to expand beyond this planet if sensible, pragmatic, and humane values are to be preserved. I don’t know if I can articulate the connection at this point, but I also found these Steve Sailer posts: one, two, three, to be involved in my perception of a lost culture.

This did give me a small glimmer of optimism, but it is not enough. I do not know if anything is enough. I think the only hope this society may have is in Science’s iconoclasm, that the elaborate mythologies that are attacking Knowledge and Beauty and Good will be smashed to bits by it. Will that happen? I think, eventually, but who knows if Science itself will remain steady enough to do so.

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