Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arizona, Immigration, and America’s Lost Cause: “The War on Drugs”

Some of the criticism I’ve heard recently, concerning Arizona’s new law confronting the state’s illegal immigration crisis, don’t carry much weight with me. For instance, it’s said that Hispanics living in Arizona will now be compelled, by the authorities, to “show their papers” in order to prove that they are living in the country legally, and that, for Hispanics, this will make living in Arizona something akin to living in a police state. But the truth is that Hispanics living anywhere within the southwestern United States have always been compelled by the authorities to “show their papers”, when necessary, in order to prove that they are living in this country legally.

Having both lived in and traveled extensively throughout the southwestern United States, I probably have a much clearer insight regarding this issue than do most Americans, especially all of those talking head commentators who live and work in Washington, D. C. I mean, when was the last time any of them actually saw or crossed the U. S.-Mexico border—up close and personal? I’ve done many times, most recently in the twin gritty border towns of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora Mexico, which is nothing at all like the more popular tourist cities of Cancun or Mazatlan.

Nogales, Sonora is a violent city. Like other border towns, Nogales is caught-up in the corrupt Mexican government’s on-going war with the Mexican drug cartels. I’ve actually spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S/ Mexico border region. I lived in El Paso, Texas for four years (during the late eighties) and, most recently, I spent a year and a half living in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve visited many towns along the Mexican border with the United States (la frontera): Matamoros, Cuidad Acuna, Presidio, Cuidad Juarez, and Nogales. In the border towns, for many years now, it’s been commonplace to see heavily armed military troops and police clashing with the cartels and to expect cartel related violence to erupt at any time. Not to mention the many stories you hear from the locals about the latest hits, assassinations, and violent shootouts that have recently occurred.

From my observations of the border region—from the mid 1980’s until today—the U. S. Border Patrol has greatly improved its protection of the U. S./Mexico border. But considering the task they are faced with—the border region being a vast, empty desert that is 1,700 miles long—they still have a long way to go. The fact that Arizona now wants to ensure its citizen's protection, in addition to the protection already provided by the overworked U. S. Border Patrol is, I think, quite reasonable.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

America: Pride Goes Before Destruction

The word hubris means: to have an arrogant and exaggerated sense of pride or self-confidence, and the Washington government is best described as hubristic.

There's an old saying: "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18) and this is exactly where America is headed—destruction—if the People do not demand (meaning: massive protests on Washington) real change from Washington, soon.

The next election will change nothing; I can assure you of that.

Washington has reached beyond its grasp and its hubristic overreach has set this nation--meaning us, our friends and our families—on course with (a well deserved and impending) disaster.

The Pentagon war-planners are delusional: they intend to begin and to win an up-coming war with Iran, which will result in war with Iran's allies, Russia and China, leading to World War III. The Pentagon knows this, is planning for this, and arrogantly believes it can win this world war.

"Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."

If the American People do not rise up and put a stop to this, America's defeat--at the hands of our enemies--will usher in God's (well deserved) judgment upon us all, because we—the People—are responsible for the actions of our government.

Washington has lied to us about the terror attacks of 9/11. The attacks were orchestrated by the corrupt, criminal Washington government as a pretext for invading the Middle East.

Fox news writer Jeffery Scott Shapiro, in his article "Shame on Jesse Ventura", has recently acknowledged the fact that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11 was caused by controlled demolition. Have you seen any of the local, New York City network television new affiliate video of the collapse of Building 7 on 9/11? It's all over YouTube. Watch it. It shows a controlled demolition.

Yet the Washington government has asserted—for the past nine years—that this building, as well as the Twin Towers, collapsed due to fire alone.

Washington has been lying to us about the events of 9/11.

Was our government responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11? Did Washington justify these deaths deontologically, meaning it thought of these deaths as necessary for the greater good of America (i.e., invasion of the Middle East, which was necessary, supposedly, for America's security)? I'm sure they did, but Washington has not told us this.

If you knew that Washington had been lying to us about 9/11, if you knew that our government was actually responsible for the deaths of all those innocent people, if you knew that the hubris of the Washington government was soon going to usher in World War III, would you do anything to try and stop it?

We need to wake up, be converted to the truth, shift our paradigms, and usher in a new, national era of repentance and humiliation to atone for the crimes that our government has committed—against the world and against its own people—before it's too late.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shame on Fox News

Inspector Finch, in the film V for Vendetta:

“What if the worst most horrific biological attack was not the work of religious extremists? What if someone else unleashed the virus and someone else killed all of these people? “Would you really want to know who it was? If it was someone working for this government? If our own government was responsible for the deaths of almost 100,000 people. Would you really want to know?”

Shame on Fox News.

Or, as Fox News writer Jeffery Scott Shapiro writes: “Shame on Jesse Ventura . . . . Governor Ventura has discredited himself, and dishonored and defamed his country by promoting these intellectually dishonest views.”

What “intellectually dishonest views” are being promoted by former governor Ventura”? They are that the Washington government has been lying to us about the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Mr. Shapiro would like for us to believe that such conspiracy mongering is un-American. In particular, Shapiro singles out the accusation, made by Ventura and other 9/11 truth seekers, that World Trade Center Building # 7 was brought down by controlled demolition, which was caused by explosives that were placed in the building by elements of the U. S. government well in advance of 9/11:

“Governor Ventura and many 9/11 “Truthers” allege that government explosives caused the afternoon collapse of building 7. This is false . . . Shortly before the building collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con-Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein, the property developer of One World Financial Center, was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building . . . Many law enforcement personnel, firefighter, and journalists were aware of this possible option. There was no secret. There was no conspiracy . . . The myth that Building 7 was blown up by the U. S. government is false . . .”

Since neither the U. S. government nor the U. S. media has ever acknowledged the fact that Building 7 was brought down by design—either by Larry Silverstein or the U. S. government—are we to believe that what Shapiro is trying to tell us is that the 9/11 “Truthers” should be honest from now on by acknowledging the fact that Silverstein intentionally caused the collapse of Building 7 on 9/11?

The problem with this is that both the U. S. government and the U. S. media have denied—for the past nine years—that anyone intentionally demolished Building 7. Both have been telling the American people that the building collapsed due to fire (the building was not hit by an aircraft).

It now appears that Fox News intends to persuade and influence its followers and its adherents to believe that every school boy knows—and has known, for the past nine years—that Building 7 was brought down by controlled demolition.

What’s frightening to me is that those who are fans of Fox News will probably fall for this nonsense.

What’s even more disturbing to me is this:

I think that if the American people were ever told by their government that, in order to keep the American people safe from Islamic terrorism, it was necessary for the U. S. government to orchestrate the attacks of 9/11, pretend the attacks were orchestrated by al Qaeda terrorists, and that is was necessary to sacrifice the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people in the process, I think the overwhelming majority of Americans would simply say: “Okay, that makes sense to me . . . after all, our government knows things that we don’t know and they certainly know what’s best for us.”

I can see it—and hear it—now . . . probably on Fox News . . .

[flags waving in the background]

“Those who died on 9/11 are the real heroes . . . those who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of the American people in order to keep us safe and to keep our nation strong.”

[close-up of tear being shed]

But I don’t buy it. And I hope that the American people don’t buy it either.

Those who lost loved ones on 9/11 have been lied to by our government and it’s our government that is truly responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

Our government has been lying to us about the events of 9/11 and, for the sake of those who died in the attacks and their loved ones, the lies of 9/11 must be exposed and the real perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks brought to justice.

Our government has become a corrupt, criminal syndicate that assumes it can get away with anything, because it assumes that the overwhelming majority of the American people will simply believe and accept anything it tells them.

Especially if it’s on Fox News.

Let’s hope our government is wrong in making this assumption. And let’s hope that the American people will demand to know the truth about the events of 9/11, as awful as that truth may turn out to be.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Foucault and the Folly of the Narcissistic Self

We’re now studying the French philosopher Michel Foucault in our Literary and Cultural theory class and I’m finding it difficult, if not impossible, to read his book: Introduction the History of Sexuality. In fact, I’m not reading it; because it’s crap.

When it comes to philosophy and being a philosopher, Foucault is a tawdry imitation of the real thing. He has nothing to tell me. The word philosophy means: the love of wisdom (Greek: philos, meaning: love; and sophia, meaning: wisdom) and there is no wisdom to be found in Foucault’s writings. His writings are certainly pretentious, verbose, and academic, so that he might appear to have been a philosopher, but I can assure you that he wasn’t.

Although I am not a professional philosopher, I can honestly say that there is more wisdom in my one book than in all of Foucault’s books put together. And for one, simple reason: I believe that love and compassion for others is the only real purpose in life, whereas Foucault believes that the only real purpose in life is the domination and exploitation of others for one’s own purposes and pleasures.

There’s no love of wisdom to be found in his writings; quite the opposite. Philosophy is an art, and the philosopher is an artist who seeks goodness, beauty, and truth. Like someone who urinates on stage or affixes a urinal to a museum wall and calls it art, Foucault’s impure “philosophy” can be likened to excrement. And one does not consider excrement art. If anything, his is an anti-philosophy, or a love of foolishness.

As the late Professor of Literature at Boston University Roger Shattuck has pointed out, in his book Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography, Foucault embraced the moral nihilism of the Marquis de Sade; from whom we get the terms: sadistic and sadism.

What, then, is Foucault’s great and lasting philosophical accomplishment? To tell us that abusing others physically and sexually—and then killing them—is to live the authentic philosophical life.

Shattuck tells us that “Michel Foucault presents as fundamental for the emergence of the modern era out of seventeenth century classicism the fact that Sade revealed to us the truth about man’s relation to nature. Foucault plants his declarations at crucial junctures in his two major works of 1961 and 1966. These four passages reveal the usually obscured center of his ethos:

‘Sadism . . . is a massive cultural fact that appeared precisely at the end of the eighteenth century and that constitutes one of the greatest conversions of the occidental imagination . . . madness of desire, the insane delight of love and death in the limitless presumptions of appetite.’ (Madness and Civilization, 210)

‘Through Sade and Goya, the Western world received the possibility of transcending its reason in violence . . .’ (Madness and Civilization, 285)

‘After Sade, violence, life and death, desire, and sexuality will extend, below the level of representation, an immense expanse of darkness, which we are now attempting to recover . . . in our discourse, in our freedom, in our thought.’ (The Order of Things, 211)

‘Among the mutations that have affected the knowledge of things . . . only one, which began a century and a half ago . . . has allowed the figure of man to appear.’ (The Order of Things, 386)

The last quotation from the final page of The Order of Things does not allude to Sade by name. But, in association with the other passages and in context, there can be little doubt that the great cultural ‘mutation’ welcomed by Foucault refers directly to Sade’s moral philosophy and to its practice in actual life.” (Forbidden Knowledge, 246-247)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Propaganda and the People

Propaganda and the People

One of the most important books I’ve ever read is Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. Ellul was a French Resistance fighter during World War II and his study of propaganda concentrates on the Nazi’s methods of propaganda. Although the book is somewhat dated (it was published in 1973), the methods of propaganda he examines haven’t really changed at all, because they still work, and governments continue to use these same methods, which the Nazi’s used so many years ago.

Ellul is one of the greatest thinkers of our time; therefore he was very well able to analyze propaganda—unlike most people, who are so easily taken in by propaganda.

To most people, the word propaganda has negative connotations, because we think of how lies have been perpetrated via propaganda, but the word propaganda simply describes a certain type of speech: propagandistic speech; the word itself has neither negative nor positive connotations. Propaganda is certainly persuasive speech, but then all speech is persuasive to some degree; if it weren’t, we wouldn’t bother speaking (or writing) at all.

What I find most interesting about propaganda is how blatantly—shamelessly—persuasive it is. During World War II, the United States shamelessly portrayed our enemy, the Japanese people, as sub-human, rodent-like creatures. Why? So that our soldiers could find it easier to kill (i.e., exterminate) them and so that the citizens of the U. S. could support such killing.

Does anyone in the U. S. today still believe that the Japanese people are sub-human, rodent-like creatures? Yet the overwhelming majority of Americans during World War II did think of the Japanese people this way.

What’s changed? The war eventually ended; the war-fever eventually subsided; and the American people eventually came back to their senses.

Now apply this same scenario—the use of wartime propaganda—to ourselves and our situation today. Today we are at war with the terrorists, and ever since September 11, 2001, the American people (and the entire world) have been given, by their government in Washington, a very simple choice: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”

Obviously no one wants to be “with the terrorists,” do they? So we default to an unthinking, flag waving support of our nation, during its time of war: the “War on Terror”.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Woman’s Transformation from Other to Self - A de Beauvoirian Gender Interpretation of Kate Chopin’s: The Awakening

One Woman’s Transformation from Other to Self - A de Beauvoirian Gender Interpretation of Kate Chopin’s: The Awakening

Thesis statement: By using Simone de Beauvoir’s understanding of women as Other opposed to Self in The Second Sex, I will demonstrate how the character of Edna Pontellier, in The Awakening, transitions from Other to Self.

Simone de Beauvoir tells us that, historically speaking, men have long set themselves up as the One, the Absolute, the Subject, and the Self; therefore relegating women to the place of Other: “She [woman] is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute—she is the Other”(de Beauvoir) Simone de Beauvoir tells us men have been defining women negatively for thousands of years: “‘The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities,’ said Aristotle; ‘we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness.’ And St Thomas for his part pronounced woman to be an ‘imperfect man’, an ‘incidental’ being. This is symbolised in Genesis where Eve is depicted as made from what Bossuet called ‘a supernumerary bone’ of Adam . . . Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being”(de Beauvoir).

Early in The Awakening (p. 33), Edna Pontellier begins to realizes that she is not, in fact, an Other—that is, a being defined negatively—but that she is, rather, a Self: “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (p. 33). The character of Edna is caught-up within the patriarchal Self/Other cultural milieu of her time but she does not feel as though she properly belongs to it: “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman . . . women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (p. 19).

Simone de Beauvoir describes the patriarchal Self/Other milieu, in which Edna is Other simply because she is a woman: “When man makes of woman the Other, he may, then, expect to manifest deep-seated tendencies towards complicity. Thus, woman may fail to lay claim to the status of subject because she lacks definite resources, because she feels the necessary bond that ties her to man regardless of reciprocity, and because she is often very well pleased with her role as the Other”( de Beauvoir).

In The Awakening, Edna is not at all content with her role as Other but she finds it difficult to break free of this role, which is constantly imposed upon her by the dominant patriarchal culture of which she is a part. The difficulty Edna has in learning how to break free of these patriarchal, cultural restraints is described metaphorically by the author: “Edna had attempted all summer to learn to swim” (p. 70). Edna’s “learning how to swim” is the author’s metaphorical description of Edna’s learning how to be free or liberated—in the feministic sense—of patriarchal dominance.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What are the intentions of today’s Tea Party supporters?

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for thy house will consume me’” John 2:13-17

What are the intentions of today’s Tea Party supporters? Are they willing, if necessary, to go to the same lengths that the participants in the original Boston Tea Party (and Christ) went to: the violent destruction of property?

Many of the Tea Party movement’s “leaders” and supporters are going out of their way to say that the movement eschews violence, how then can the modern day Tea Party movement possibly lay a legitimate claim to the name “Tea Party” when the whole point of the original Boston Tea Party, in 1773, was to participate in a violent act of (very costly) property destruction?

At the Boston Tea Party, “A number of brave & resolute men, determined to do all in their power to save their country from the ruin which their enemies had plotted, in less than four hours, emptied every chest of tea on board the three ships commanded by the captains Hall, Bruce, and Coffin, amounting to 342 chests, into the sea!! without the least damage done to the ships or any other property” Dec. 20, 1773 issue of the Boston Gazette.

In fact, the morning after the Boston Tea Party, its participants “discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable” George Hewes, Boston Tea Party participant.

There have been times in the history of America when such actions were deemed necessary, and there may again be such times in the near future. Are the members of the modern day Tea Party prepared to go to such lengths, if necessary, or is this group made up of mostly faux (phony) patriots?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Solve the "Danger of Terrorists Going Nuclear" Problem

I'm sure we've all heard about the recent nuclear summit in Washington, D. C. One of the major concerns at the summit was how to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

The current situation makes it almost certain that terrorists will, eventually, use some sort of nuclear device in a terrorist attack; and as things stand now it is impossible to head this off. Except for one possibility, which the summit of world leaders didn't even consider: stop oppressing people, stop telling people what to do, stop colonizing people's lands, and stop stealing their resources.

This solution--addressing the causes of terrorism and not simply the effects of terrorism--is so obvious to anyone with awareness and commonsense that one wonders why world leaders don't even consider it.

But the reason for this is obvious: the oppressive nations of the world know full well what they are doing and what they wish to accomplish. But I have news for them: the oppressed peoples of the world also know this, and we will not cooperate with our own enslavement. We will continue to resist you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Few Things We All Need to Understand About the Current American Political Situation

Problem: The political problems we face today in Washington are not of the either/or variety, they are of the both/and variety. The fact that things are so screwed up (politically) in Washington is not the fault of either the Democrats or the Republicans; it's the fault of both the Democrats and the Republicans.

Solution: Stop blaming either the Democrats or the Republicans and start blaming both.

Problem: Voting in elections never really seems to change anything.

Solution: stop voting and start protesting.

Problem: Protesting never really seems to change anything.

Solution: Start conducting real protests: ones without a permit that will stop traffic.

Insight: Voting in elections and engaging in legal protests are things which the Washington government wants you to do. The government knows that neither of these two things will ever change anything (meaning: putting an end to the corrupt politicians' hold on power) but that our being involved in these will cause us to feel as though we are doing something to effect change when in fact our doing so will never effect real change. Elections and legal, permitted protests are cathartic—meaning our involvement in them causes us to feel better by allowing us to let off some steam, so to speak.

Problem: The Washington politicians of both parties are in bed with the big corporations and with the big Wall Street banks; therefore the People are no longer able to use the power of the federal government to control the abuses of big corporations and the big Wall Street banks. In fact, rather than Washington protecting the People, the People are now being forced by the Washington politicians to bail them out.

Solution: Stop blaming either the Democrats (i.e., Obama) or the Republicans and start blaming both. Stop thinking the next election will solve anything, because it won't. Start protesting in Washington against the politicians and their corporate banker friends and for the freedom and liberty of the People; real protests (without permits) that stop traffic.

Problem: The Washington government isn't doing enough to help the People.

Solution: The People, if they want help, are going to have to start helping themselves. Since the Washington politicians, the big corporations, and the big Wall Street banks have now become one, ungodly symbiotic entity: start organizing to resist it by active and effective non-violent civil disobedience. And let's start taking care of one another. It's not the Washington government's responsibility to take care of us, it's our responsibility to take care of one another (i.e., we are our brothers' keeper).

Problem: There's too much discord in the People's movements that already exist (e. g., the (rightist) Tea Party movement and the (leftist) Anti-War movement), which have been organized in order to protest against the Washington government/big corporation/Wall Street banker entity and protest for the rights and well-being of the People.

Solution: Let's curb our sociopolitical dogmas, prioritize, and begin focusing upon the issues we can all agree upon. For example, can the right and the left not agree to work together in order to put an end to the un-American Washington agenda, which both political parties in Washington endorse: wars of empire, torture, spying on Americans?

Problem: Economically, it seems as though Americans endorse either capitalism or socialism; therefore it appears that Americans will never be able to agree about economics and will be continually fighting over the issue.

Solution: Economics in America never has been—and never will be—an either/or issue, and we're just spinning our wheels arguing about it if we think that it is, which is exactly what the Washington government/big corporation/Wall Street banker entity wants us to do: spin our wheels while they laugh at us all the way to their banks . . . with OUR money. American economics has always had—and always will have—elements of both capitalism and socialism. When it comes to capitalism and socialism, economics in America is not an either/or issue: it's a both/and issue.

Problem: The Washington government/big corporation/Wall Street banker entity is just too powerful; it appears that nothing we can ever do will ever change anything.

Solution: People power can effect real change, if the People are will to get involved as the real, active and effective agents of such change. It will not be easy, and it will not be without cost. But nothing worth having is ever easy, nor is it ever cheap. We have only two options: 1) we can do what the Washington government/big corporation/Wall Street banker entity wants us to do, which is nothing or what amounts to doing nothing (e.g., voting, legal protests); or 2) we can do that which the Washington government/big corporation/Wall Street banker entity doesn't want us to do, which is to do something that will cause and effect real change: protest—without permits—against the government/corporation/banker entity and protest for the rights, liberty, and dignity of the People. This entity will never simply hand-over these rights, liberty, and dignity to the People, the People must demand them from their oppressors.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Taxes? The Regressive VAT

Have you heard about this new tax the feds are proposing: the Value Added Tax (VAT)? It's bad enough that the feds are proposing yet another tax upon the American citizens, but now they want to tax the poor and working people more than the wealthy people?

The VAT is a regressive tax, meaning the poor and the working class will pay a higher percentage when they pay the new tax.

What's wrong with an equal percentage, or a flat tax?

My question, to you, is: "When the hell is enough enough for you?"

I, for one, have HAD IT with the Washington politicians.

Do you realize the feds in Washington are already getting pay raises and bonuses, even during these hard economic times? That they are already making six-figure salaries? That they are already making more than private-sector workers? That even U. S. House of Representative staffers are already making six-figure salaries? That thousands of federal employees in Washington are already riding the Metro for free on the American people's tax dollars?

God knows, I could go on . . . these are only a few examples of how the feds in Washington are wasting the American people's tax dollars.

Of course, to those who are a part of the federal government, it's not a waste of tax dollars at all. For these people, it's simply fuel for the gravy train they're riding.

So get ready to pay-out even more taxes America. Get ready or get angry.

Why not get angry and do something to put a stop to this?

As soon as enough Americans have had enough of this sort of thing, I will be the first person in Washington to participate in shutting that city down through massive, non-violent protests--without a permit--which are the only kinds of protests that will work.

This is the only message Washington will ever get, and it's time to send it--NOW!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Capitalism Isn’t (or, “Against the Plutocrats”)

I was reading the latest edition of Liberation, the newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), which I often agree with, and I came across the section of the paper in which the PSL describes who they are and what they stand for. What I found interesting, in this section, was the PSL's (incorrect) definition of "capitalism": "Capitalism—the system in which all wealth and power is held by a tiny group billionaires and their state . . ."

What the PSL is describing, here, is not "capitalism" but "a plutocracy".

I realize that we don't often hear the term "plutocracy" but the term was quite popular during the 1890's, when it was used by the populist movements. And the term "plutocracy" means exactly what the PSL says that it's against: "government by the wealthy".

In my opinion, an organization (like the PSL) should be absolutely certain about what it's against before it begins to rail against it; and I think that any organization should be especially concerned with using the proper definitions of the terms its members will be using in their on-going debates with other peoples.

For example, if you're going to host a conference (as PSL recently did) called: "Capitalism is Organized Crime!", then I think you'd better be absolutely certain that you're using the proper definition of the term "capitalism".

The term "capitalism" means: an economic system in which the people hold private ownership of property and are engaging in free market competition. The term "plutocracy", on the other hand, means: rule by the wealthy (Greek: plutos, meaning wealth; and kratos, meaning: power).

(Perhaps "Plutocracy is Organized Crime!" would simply go over most people's heads?)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The WikiLeaks Video and M. O. B. A.

My perspective of the recently released WikiLeaks video.

As someone who was trained to be a soldier by the U. S. military, I can tell you that the recently released WikiLeaks video raised mixed thoughts and emotions within me.

In the first place, the Apache attack helicopter pilot no doubt feels vulnerable to attack: one well-placed round from an RPG (i.e., a Rocket Propelled Grenade) is able to bring him down. Early in the video, it is evident that one man on the ground had what appears to be an RPG, while another man has what appears to be an AK-47.

After the helicopter's first fly-by, a man can be seen crouching next to the building and taking what appears (both to me and to the pilot) to be a firing position from which to launch an RPG at the helicopter. The helicopter pilot radios-in to ask if there are any friendlies in the area and he's told there are not; therefore anyone in this particular area is considered to be an enemy combatant.

Having spotted armed men, and one man in particular who appears to be taking a firing position, the helicopter gunner fires on them the moment he gets a clear shot; killing or mortally wounding all of the men in the area.

It's clear that the men who are gathered on the street do not appear to be concerned that the helicopter is flying overhead (as I would be) and it's also clear that no one has yet fired upon the helicopter. Nevertheless, the helicopter opens fire, killing or mortally wounding everyone in sight.

From the pilot's perspective, he's already risked, like a good cop, being fired upon before shooting: if that one guy actually was taking a position from which to fire an RPG, and if he had actually fired-on and hit the helicopter, the Apache would have gone down—fast.

So from my perspective, the pilot actually took a pretty big chance by not firing on them right away. He waited until it appeared that the men were armed; he saw what appeared to be an armed man taking a firing position against them; he clarified that there were no friendly forces in the area; and he requested permission to fire before doing so.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Love Life

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen carnage--meaning: the bodies of human beings that have been torn into chunks of flesh, or meat--and seeing this has always broken my heart. Not right away of course, but afterward; when I’ve had time to calm down and reflect on what I’ve seen.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, “The medical examiner's office received a total of 19,916 human remains, which included fewer than 300 intact bodies or torsos. It identified 10,190 body parts, some as small as a finger tip, primarily through
DNA testing. About 9,726 remains remain unidentified.”

Although we don’t like to think about it, the finger tip of an unborn child who has been legally killed by an abortionist would also be identified as being “human remains.”

In short, this is indisputable scientific evidence that the unborn child is a human being. But we already knew that, didn’t we?

The death of any one human being diminishes us all, because we are all involved in humanity.

And we wonder why life seems so cheap today, and why the U. S. military can kill so indiscriminately?

Phenomenologically, meaning that if we were to observe the appearances of abortion on demand, as the abortionist does, we would see abortion for what it is: the intentional, violent destruction of an innocent human life.

Phenomenologically, this is not dissimilar to the appearances we observe when we view the Apache attack helicopter gunner as he intentionally, violently destroys the innocent human lives of those two Iraqi men who are trying to help the wounded journalist crawling on that street in New Baghdad (in 2007), which has now been revealed by the
WikiLeaks video.

Perhaps WikiLeaks will someday release a video of an abortionist killing an unborn child. Phenomenologically, we would then be able to see abortion on demand for what it really is: the intentional, violent destruction of an innocent human life.

As a matter of fact, with all of the hoopla surrounding the release of the WikiLeaks video of that Apache attack helicopter gunner killing those innocent men, one would think that people had never seen a human being killed—violently—before.

But then I suppose most people haven't.

Maybe this is our problem. I mean what, exactly, do we think has been going on in Iraq for the past seven years? And what, exactly, do we think has been going on in the abortionist’s clinic . . . for the past thirty-seven years?

Perhaps if more people were to observe carnage--meaning: the bodies of human beings that have been torn into chunks of flesh, or meat--their hearts would be broken too; like mine is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Bakhtinian Understanding of Robert Louis Stevenson’s: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I turned in a paper for class yesterday, which concerns Russian literary theorist Michael Bakhtin and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I figured: "What the heck? I may as well post it here for anyone who might be interested in it. . ."

Literary and Cultural Interpretation

Prof. Larry Shillock

Assignment 1

Student: Alex MacDonald

A Bakhtinian Understanding of Robert Louis Stevenson's: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Thesis statement: Russian literary theorist Michael Bakhtin theorizes that all speech acts, which he calls "utterances", anticipate a response on the part of an active listener.

Three main points to follow: 1) Stevenson's novella, as a whole, is a Bakhtinian utterance of the complex, secondary speech genre; 2) Stevenson's novella, as a whole, elicits a powerful Bakhtinian response from an active Bakhtinian listener; 3) Stevenson's use of Dr. Lanyon's letter, which is of the simple, primary speech genre, ends the narrator's Bakhtinian utterance and becomes caught-up into "actual reality" by being incorporated into the utterance that is the novella—the epitome, according to Bakhtin, of the living, complex, sociologically oriented, secondary speech genre that is: the novel (or, in Stevenson's case: the novella).

Contrary to other linguists, who think of language as a system of signs, Bakhtin emphasizes the sociological nature of language. Theorizing that the spoken word is primary, Bakhtin denies neutrality to language and exposes all "speech acts" as being heavy-laden with sociological presuppositions, because all speakers are also active listeners who have been influenced by—and who are responding to—innumerable, prior, sociological utterances.

Bakhtin theorizes that these sociologically influenced, non-neutral speech acts always anticipate a response from an active listener. As for Bakhtin's concept of the utterance, Bakhtin tells us "The utterance is not a conventional unit [i.e., an abstract, sign-system, unit of speech], but a real unit, clearly delimited by the change of speaking subjects . . ." Bakhtin also tells us that, "Each separate utterance is individual . . . but each sphere [i.e., genre] in which language is used develops its own relatively stable types of these utterances. These we may call speech genres."

According to Bakhtin, there are two types of speech genres: the primary (i.e., the simple) and the secondary (i.e., the complex). For example, the primary speech genre consists of the simple utterances (e.g., words, phrases, and expressions) of everyday life; whereas the secondary speech genre consists of primary utterances which are shaped, according to the spheres in which they are to be used, into the more complex utterances (e.g., scientific treaties, commentaries, novels), which are necessary for complex, socially-oriented communications.

Bakhtin thinks of the novel as a unique genre, because of its living, dynamic, and sociologically oriented nature: "Studying other genres is analogous to studying dead languages, studying the novel, on the other hand, is like studying languages that are not only alive, but still young."

Monday, April 5, 2010

"A place of peace and tranquility" ?

Have you seen this statement, made by Kansas Judge Warren Wilbert, who recently sentenced the guy--Scott Roeder--who killed late-term abortionist George Tiller (a.k.a."Tiller the Killer") in Wichita last May? Apparently this judge could have made Roeder eligible for parole on the murder charge after 25 years, but said there was evidence that Roeder had stalked Tiller and added that killing him in a church (which Roeder did) made the crime heinous because a house of worship is meant to be "a place of peace and tranquility."

"Your honor, do you honestly believe that Roeder's having gunned-down George 'Tiller the Killer' in a church made his crime all the more heinous because a house of worship is meant to be 'a place of peace and tranquility'?"

"Let me just say--for the record--that what is truly heinous in this case is the brutal butchering of an innocent, unborn child within her mother's womb, which is a far more sacred place than is any church, epitomizing 'a place of peace and tranquility'."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Help to Put an End to the War on Terror

If you knew the next political election in America would change nothing, what would you do? If you knew the next election would change nothing, and that the politicians in Washington would continue doing business as usual—waging war, wasting tax monies, helping their corporate, banking, and military/industrial complex buddies—what would you do? Continue to vote anyway, even though you knew the election meant nothing?

The system—our government in Washington—is broken beyond all normal means (i.e., elections) of repair.

The politicians in Washington are engaged in a murderous "War on Terror" that has resulted in nearly 5,000 American soldiers killed, over 31,000 injured, and left over 1,000,000 Iraqi's dead. The Washington establishment is planning to continue the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, which is resulting in the deaths of numerous innocent civilians in that country.

We are responsible for these transgressions.

As Dr. King said, to do nothing—to passively acquiesce in the face of evil and oppression—is to be an active participant in that same evil and oppression. We—the People—are responsible for our government, and because our government in Washington is actively evil and oppressive—unjustified and preemptive war, torture, remote-control killings, assassinations of U. S. citizens overseas, suspension of due process for those designated "terrorists", U. S. support of Israel's colonization of Palestine and the slaughter of Palestinian civilians—we have an obligation to actively resist our corrupt, Washington government establishment.

To do nothing is to participate in, and to be guilty of, the crimes our government commits.

What will you do? Wait for the next election and vote for . . . who? Will you simply wash your hands of it all and say that you're not to blame? But we ARE to blame, unless we actively resist—non-violently—our corrupt, evil, and oppressive Washington government.

The time has come for the People of America to stop doing nothing, to stop acquiescing, to stop ignoring our responsibilities, and to start standing up for what's right, start restoring sanity and justice to our nation, bring an end to the wars, the torture, the outdated colonialism of the British-American empires, and the bloated federal bureaucracy in Washington that wastes our tax dollars—it's time to throw those crooked Washington politicians out on their ears.

Stop bitching, unless you want to help solve the problem. If you want to help, then join us. If you don't want to help, then please just stay out of the way.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pro-Life = Pro-Palestine, Not Pro-Israel

So most of my anti-war friends are pro-choice, meaning they support a woman's right to pay someone, usually a man, to slaughter her innocent, unborn child. And most of my anti-abortion friends are pro-Israel, meaning they support Israel's right to slaughter innocent children in Palestine, especially in Gaza, which has been under siege for the past three years.

I feel pretty alone in believing that it's morally wrong to kill innocent little children--born or unborn.

Anyway, for my pro-life/pro-Israel friends, I'd like to point out the fact that God's promise to Israel, that they would inherit the land, was contingent upon the people of Israel keeping God's Law, which they have never done.

When God gave the people of Israel the Law, he knew they would be unable to keep it; he knew they would fail to uphold their end of the covenant agreement (see: Deuteronomy 28:63-64).

Why, then, did God give the people of Israel the law to begin with? Why did he bind them to obey that which they could not keep?

St. Paul tells us that “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

The law came to reveal our sinfulness. Jesus Christ came, died, and rose again from the dead in order to save us from our sins; by grace.

When St. Paul was confronted by Jewish Christians who believed that the Gentile Christians were required to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved, he told them:

“Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10-11).

Neither Jew nor Gentile Christians can keep the Law; they never could and they never can. We strive to follow Christ, to love our neighbors (and our enemies) as ourselves, but we will always fall short of the mark (i.e., sin). The people of Israel are not entitled to the land of Palestine because they failed to keep God’s commandments. They were not simply required to possess the land, they were required to live according to the Law, which they failed, miserably, to do.

How, then, can Christians—Gentile Christians—support the modern nation of Israel and its brutal slaughter of the Palestinian peoples? Is this how we are to love our neighbors? Is this how we are to love our enemies?

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