August 7, 2006
Even Isabella Rosselini must learn to share.
As much as Isabella would like us to focus only on her (magnificent) self, the time has come for SC&A to share ourselves with you, our loyal, intelligent and well mannered readers.
We have teamed up with the Great Minds of the Psychosphere- Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and Neo-neocon to form the newest great alliance of superheroes- The Sanity Squad.
Our inaugural podcast on Politics Central is up.
Go and feast.
In time, Isabella will learn to adjust.
August 7, 2006
I believe the Left has been wrong on virtually every great moral issue in the last 30 years.
During that period, it was wrong on the Cold War — it devoted far more energy to fighting anti-communism than to fighting communism.
It was wrong for attacking Israel for its destruction of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor.
It was wrong on welfare.
It was wrong in its demanding less morally and intellectually from black Americans than from all other Americans.
It was wrong in advocating bilingual education for children of immigrants.
It was wrong in generally holding American society rather than violent criminals responsible for violent crime.
It was wrong in imposing its view on abortion on America through the courts rather than through the democratic process.
It was wrong in teaching a generation of men and women that men and women differ because of socialization not because of innate sex differences.
It was wrong in reducing sex to a purely biological and health issue for a generation of young Americans.
It was wrong in identifying “flag waving” with fascism.
It was wrong in supporting the teachers’ unions rather than students and educational reform.
It was wrong in allying itself with trial lawyers and blocking tort reform.
It was wrong in blocking the military from recruiting on campuses and teaching a generation of young Americans that “war is not the answer” when war is at times the one moral answer.
It was wrong in arguing that America is not based on Judeo-Christian values, but on secular ones like Western Europe.
It was wrong in advancing multiculturalism, which is an extreme form of moral relativism that holds all cultures morally identical and which is a doctrine designed to undermine American national identity.
In just about every instance, one could say that the Left was foolish, the Left was naive, the Left was wrong, even that the Left was dangerous. But in all of those cases, one could imagine a decent person holding any or even all of these positions.
But we now have a bright line that divides the decent — albeit usually wrong — Left from the indecent Left.
The Left’s anti-Israel positions until now were based, at least in theory, on its opposition to Israeli occupation of Arab land and its belief in the “cycle of violence” between Israel and its enemies. However, this time there is no occupied land involved and the violence is not a cycle with its implied lack of a beginning. There is a clear aggressor — a terror organization devoted to Islamicizing the Middle East and annihilating Israel — and no occupation.
That is why the Israeli Left is almost universally in favor of Israel’s war against Hezbollah. Amos Oz, probably Israel’s best-known novelist and leading spokesman of its Left, a lifetime critic of Israeli policy vis a vis the Palestinians, wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
“Many times in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. . . . This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages. . . . There can be no moral equation between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah is targeting Israeli civilians wherever they are, while Israel is targeting mostly Hezbollah.”
Likewise, another longtime liberal critic of Israel, historian and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, wrote last week:
“As one who rejects war, I regret Israel’s heavy bombing of Lebanon last week, as I deplored Israeli attacks in population centers and on infrastructure in Gaza. . . . Yet, given the rejectionism of both Hamas and Hezbollah . . . is the path of negotiations actually open to Israel? . . . There is no moral equivalence between enemies here. . . . It seems urgent [to] reaffirm foundational support for Israel. . . . The fury of anti-Israel rage among Arabs and Muslims is accounted for only partially by the present conflict. It resuscitates . . . the long European habit of scapegoating Jews. . . . No one should think that embedded contempt for Jews — anti-Semitism — is not part of the current crisis.”
Amos Oz and James Carroll are men of the Left who have been tested and passed the most clarifying moral litmus test of our time — Israel’s fight for existence against the primitives, fanatics and sadists in Hezbollah and Hamas and elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world who wish to destroy it. Anyone on the Left who cannot see this is either bad, a useful idiot for Islamic terrorists, anti-Semitic or all three. There is no other explanation for morally condemning Israel’s war on Hezbollah.
August 7, 2006
If we can’t trust the pictures, can we trust the numbers?
Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.
That pretty much sums it up. Hizbollah’s credibility is now non existant. See Michelle Malkin for links, updates, etc.
That’s only a part of the problem. Even the numbers of dead and wounded need to be scrutinized. Arab media this morning declared yet another ‘atrocity’ that claimed 40 dead.
As is turns out, there was only one casuality. Apparently, Lebanese authorities and Al Jazeera were late in coordinating statements.
August 7, 2006
James Wolcott makes it easy- really easy. He’s got the answers and he knows the way. He has the extended, approving scepter of Vanity Fair, the Holy Quran of the politically correct avant garde. Aping the au courrant ‘Sheikh’ style of critique, he pretends problems are simple or can be dismissed out of hand.
That is precisely the tack he took when attacked Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and Gagdad Bob . His post, Shrinkage, makes no pretense as to being anything but a newly discovered liberal hadith. Instead of vilifying Jews, he attacks those who threaten his precious liberal perch.He starts by inferring that the object of his derision as ‘quacks.’ Inasmuch as he is woefully ill equipped to argue his case on merit (unless he has an MD or PhD and years of clinical experience under his belt, he as much business and credibility discussing psychotherapy as he would if he were talking about the Unified Theory). He’s a blowhard who believes that being facile with the language of psychotherapy and elementary psychological principles makes him an expert. Like the kid who watches a Tom Brokaw special on global warming, Wolcott thinks he’s an expert on the subject.
The Arab world would have you believe the world would be a better place if only there were no Jews. After all, that’s what the Quran says, right? The Left would have you believe the world would be a better place if only there would be no George Bush, Karl Rove or Republicans? After all, that is the conclusion of the fashionable and politically correct Literati/Glitterati, right? See how simple that is?
Of course, the problems in the Arab world go deeper than hating Jews. The agenda of the Islamofascists and their supporters, both active and passive, extend well beyond the elimination of Israel, in the same way the Nazi Party saw the eradication of Jews as only one part of their ideology. The ‘if only’ drivel is taken seriously by the useful idiots only.
Like the Arab world, the Left offers nothing but hate and ‘if only’ scenarios- as if that will make America into the ‘People’s Paradise’ of their dreams. Like a battalion of Leona Helmsley’s, the left proclaims they know what the ‘little people’ need. That absolves them from actually contributing and reaching an accommodation with others of differing opinion, and it keeps the Liberal elite in place. Like the Jihadis, there is no accommodation. Like the Jihadis, the left offers no room for differing opinion- especially if that differing opinion might usurp their own ideologies. The deliberate deceit of Michael Moore and the ‘My way or the highway to Canada,’ mantra, are what passes for reasonable political expression.
The problems that face us here cannot be solved by making George Bush and the Republican party go away. Public schools are still failed enterprises (despite decades of liberal ideologies) and the racial divide widens, to a good degree because of what Mr Bush referred to as the ‘velvet discrimination of lowered expectations.’ Hugo Chavez is the object of unabashed hero worship, even as Wolcott notes, “Not even the leftist lefty I can think of is yearning to fuse with the Red Borg.” Can you say ‘denial’?
Iranian and Muslim world hatred for the ‘Great Satan’ won’t disappear. As the left announces they ‘understand’ that it is the ‘neocons’ that are at the root of all evil, the reality of honor killings of gays become acceptable in the Arab world. As that band plays on, the leftists only redouble their efforts. America and the Republicans are the problem.
America and the Republicans must be the problem.
It is real narcissism, the kind that defines Wolcott, et al, that believes real world problems can be solved with an ‘only if’ scenario. The hubris of ‘I have the answer, why aren’t you listening’ is nothing short of spectacular.
If there were late night infomercials pitching ‘Narcissists Gone Wild,’ James Wolcott would be the magnificently chested beast, displaying her (unnatural) assets and proclaiming her virtue.
Hey, it sells, right?
Damn Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and Gagdad Bob!
The thing is, James Wolcott, they are a whole lot smarter than you, too.
If only they could no longer be allowed to blog…
August 7, 2006
As the world watches and waits, two seemingly unrelated events are unfolding. The war in the Middle East is unfolding and Fidel Castro is hovering between life and death. No matter what occurs in both instances, the world will never be the same. Boundaries are being pushed, and realities, heretofore ignored, are being faced.
In the case of the Middle East, despite all the brouhaha of the MSM and the left, it is clear that Israel’s war is existential. Dysfunctional societies have evolved in the region, carefully nurtured by some of the most oppressive and repressive regimes in the world, with stated aims of eliminating or destroying Israel, couched in religious terminology.
Try as the mighty MSM might, they have failed miserably in their attempt to convince the world that the Israelis are new age Nazis. The civilized world can connect the dots: It is those for whom bigotry, hate and racism are a way of life that are the problem. Public displays of bigotry and hate and the glorification of darkness (and the promises to “finish what Hitler started”) make distinguishing the good from evil pretty easy. The only ones who actually believe the hatred and bigotry remains hidden are the Arabs themselves. Decades of dysfunction and hate, encouraged by regimes at the expense of education, jobs and freedom, have resulted in societies that cannot even relate to civilized societies. It will take decades to undo the damage.
In Cuba, in the shadow of a great democracy, a population has been force fed a diet long abandoned. Words like colonialism, imperialism and the the like are taught and talked about incessantly, at the expense of words like ‘free elections’ or ‘free press’, and ‘free expression,’ and so one. Oliver Stone, chronicler of the Left, cannot make history go away. Castro’s brutal repression wasn’t a revolutionary anomaly. It was and remains, an integral part of the Cuban regime’s character.
In governments that have failed it’s citizen in every way, the ‘seven cent solution’- a bullet- is a favored and economical way to maintain control. At seven cents apiece, a lot of control can be bought. In addition, both Cuba and Arab world societies have come to rely on huge secret police networks, gulags and informers. With a straight face, they tell us- demand from us, actually, that we treat them as moral equals.
In the Arab world, hatred of Jews is taught, encouraged and rewarded. Jews are easy to hate. A few religious texts, a few preachers paid to stir things up and they are in business. Democracy has to be reviled as well, because notwithstanding the occasional cold exchanges between Israel and the western world, those democracies will never adopt the Arab world agenda. When the Arab world makes it’s case in the west, it does so in camouflage- as if they expect the racism, bigotry and hate will go unnoticed.
In Cuba, there is no religious facet, of course. In it’s place, the evils of capitalism assumed a religious motif. Everything about capitalism was evil, everything in a capitalist society was poisonous. America was the great purveyor of evil and had to fought as if she were a poisonous snake- an object of dread and fear.
In both the Arab world and in the case of Cuba and similar regimes, societies and expressions of dissent of must be subjugated. Regimes that restrict freedom will always be playing ‘catchup’ with free societies.
Societies that are successful do not need to restrict their citizens. Free societies understand that their greatness and ability to progress comes about as the result of each individual free to find his or her own greatness and potential, benefiting society along the way.
Both the Arab world and regimes like Cuba have one thing in common. They are societies that need hate and need fear. They are societies that cannot stand and support themselves on their own merits. Instead, they must rely on ever expanding and convoluted fear mongering. It is impossible for societies to succeed if they only things holding those societies together are fear and hate.
In the Arab world, the deliberate and concerted effort to vilify Jews a fundamental and basic tenet of Arab and Islamic identity is a deliberate attempt by dysfunctional political and religious leaders to create and subjugate a society that cannot function. In Cuba and elsewhere there are deliberate and concerted efforts to create that same kind of dysfunctional society.
The Arab world has painted itself into a corner. The vicious hate has been brought to the fore and it can no longer be hidden. The choices the Arabs have made are now evident for all to see. They have chosen hate over education ( a recent UN report placed Arab education at the bottom of the world barrel) and bigotry over progress. Along with the spectacular legacy of deaths, murders and failures that equal those in the darkest African recesses, the only other notable Arab achievement has been hating Jews. When you consider the great oil and gas wealth that been plundered, one can only be stupefied.
Castro’s legacy is being looked at, even as we speak. How does he hide the deaths, the murders? How does his Cuba explain away the economic failures, highlighted not only by neighbor America’s successes, but the successes of other Caribbean, even smaller neighbors? A Canadian visitor to Cuba once wrote that Havana- the show city- reminded him of Montreal in the 1950′s. Is that success? Are the hotels that cater to foreign tourists (and off limits to Cubans) any different than similar hotels that were found in Moscow, not that long ago? Had the Cuba been free, she and her citizens would no doubt have been spectacularly successful. a ‘warm Canada.’
In the same way that statues to Lenin and Stalin came down, so too will the tributes to Castro’s ‘people’s paradise.’
The fact remains that what is happening in the Middle East and Cuba are related.
It’s called, ‘Sunlight.’
August 7, 2006
Gagdad Bob is on a roll. This morning he talks about that magical extra rinse cycle, reincarnation. As is his style, he doesn’t answer the question, really. Instead, he forces us to look at ourselves through new lenses and with more expanded definitions. He speaks of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ heredities- and in the process, really does sharpen the image we see reflected back to us in the mirror. Our reality may be in ther moment, but in fact, our place in reality is much more. He staes, “Our physical body is on loan from nature, whom we must repay at the end of our days.”
Now get that cup of coffee and we’ll talk about tomorrow, yesterday and why today really counts.
Continuing with the interview, here is another question from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred. Hmm… Why do I get the feeling that I have begged this question before? Perhaps I can do a better job of equivocation this time around:
Q: Do you believe in reincarnation? Do we really get another chance to “get it right?” Why?
A: Why? Because let’s face it, Krishna was either liar, lord or lunatic. Krishna said it, I believe it, and that settles it.
Actually, it is interesting that the Eastern, “right hemisphere” of the world regards reincarnation as a banal matter of faith, while it is a stumbling block for the Western, left hemisphere of the worldbrain. Is there a corpus colossum that can join the two hermetispheres and make sense of the concept?
As always, words are problematic and potentially misleading in discussing spiritual matters. In short, words are words, not the reality to which they point or the experience which they memorialize. To back up a bit, there is a fundamental difference between Western and Eastern approaches to philosophy, in that the former generally begins and ends with knowledge by discernment, while the latter rests upon knowledge by identification.
For example, the touchstone of Hindu philosophy is the Upanishads, which were written by ancient rishis, or seers. As such, the Upanishads do not contain ideas that are argued but visions that were seen and experienced. Not only is the truth “seen,” but the seer comes to embody the truth so perceived. In other words, this is transformative truth–in knowing it, you are not the same. Naturally words must be used to convey the experience, but they mustn’t be confused with the thing in itself. This is a very different from Western philosophy, which mostly consists of ideas–however wooly or trite–that can be passed like an object from mind to mind.
The horizontal aspect of language is mostly reducible to a purely Darwinian explanation. But there is a very mysterious vertical aspect to language that cannot be so reduced, unless one wishes to be absurd. Most modern people don’t mind being absurd, so long as they can imagine that they understand. Better to be absurd than to deal with the anxiety of not knowing.
It has been remarked that poets are metaphysicians in the raw, mediators between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing. In its sacred or mythological aspect, language is the nexus between the nighttime and daytime realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambiguous variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an “object.” But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional subject-object.
Or you may think of mundane language as dealing with horizontal recollection, while the type of language I am talking about involves vertical recollection, or anamnesis.
It is said that “that which is Night to all beings, that is Day to the Seer.” The typical soul is blinded by the bright and shiny objects of the waking world, while the seer is able to detect hidden connections in the night womb where events incubate before undergoing the formality of becoming in the external world.
There is a general stream of Life into which the particular stream of your life enters upon birth–your life is a little eddy in the stream of Life, so to speak, and is constituted by that larger Life. Once here, we see through a glass darkly: “on earth the broken arcs, in heaven the perfect round.” We ride atop the mortality-go-round, but the stream below is full of information that links us to the whole. There is a storehouse of collective memory to which we have access, and which can definitely give us the feeling that we have been here before, in particular, because spiritual growth always involves recollection–not horizontal recollection but vertical recollection. We are remembering something that is already inside us, in our deepest, most inward being.
I maintain that reincarnation is a way of talking about the two very different kinds of heredity that clearly operate in us: a horizontal heredity that is encoded in our genes, and a vertical heredity that seems to shape us from “above” rather than “behind.” In my view, when we talk about reincarnation, we are simply acknowledging the reality of vertical heredity. It is a way of talking about something real yet mysterious–about that part of ourselves that not only has distinct inclinations and attitudes–even perhaps an earthly mission–but is also able to tap into a sort of knowledge base of which it has had no personal experience.
Are we really the product of two heredities? I don’t know about you, but genes or no genes, I have no idea how I dropped into my particular family. I am amazingly incompatible with virtually all of my family members save for one–not necessarily to the point of open conflict (though there is that with one particularly polarized member who despises me), but mostly indifference and mutual incomprehension. I was born with very specific, not to say unusual, inclinations that I can find in none of my relatives, either living or dead. But I certainly see them in non-blood relations with whom I share vertical DNA.
So, we apparently have a terrestrial heredity that extends back through higher primates, lower mammals, fish, plants, single cells, and across the dark abyss to insentient matter.
On the other hand, we have a vertical heredity that extends through various degrees of being–various powers, principalities, rulers, and thrones–all the way up until we reach Brahman, the Absolute, the One, The Father in Heaven, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and Uncreated Slack.
Our “frontal self” comes into the world the usual way, while another part of us is imaginately conceived, or “word made flesh.” Unlike the horizontal word of DNA and natural selection, this is the vertical word of “supernatural” election. (I put supernatural in quotes, for nature herself is supernatural, as anyone who appreciates the transcendental beauty of the mythematical equations governing the big bang can tell you.)
There was a time, not too long ago, when human beings were not aware of their vertical descent from above, any more than animals are. Again, if you think of our humanness as situated at the innersection of the horizontal and vertical, it took some time for Homo sapiens to realize their place in the vertical.
One cannot even know of the horizontal until consciousness has lifted above it. Otherwise we are simply immersed in our perceptions and engulfed by the senses. But as consciousness ascends, one begins to realize that the vertical is also a world in its own right.
After all, Homo sapiens was genetically complete by as long ago as 200,000 (or as recently as 100,000) years. And yet, either way, we don’t see much evidence in the archeological record of “vertical liftoff” until about 35-40,000 years ago, with the sudden appearance of beautifully realized cave paintings, body decoration, musical instruments, statuary, widespread burial of the dead, etc.
Clearly, vertical liftoff had begun, into a nonsensuous dimension of transcendental Love, Truth and Beauty that was anterior to our arrival there. For what would motivate an erstwhile ape not just to paint, but to do so with such refined delicacy of line, shade, and contour? Why bother?
But vertical progress for humans is frequently stalled–both collectively and individually. Human beings have reached many historical impasses, or crossroads (frankly, we are in a somewhat nasty one right now). In reality, these are not horizontal impasses. Rather, they are vertical impasses. Overcoming these world-historical obstacles is not a matter of additional horizontal evolution. That process is basically over, although recent research seems to demonstrate that some additional evolution has been going on at the margins.
But even if certain brains have been getting a little bigger or smarter, it is not our hardizontalware, but our vertical software–or aloftware–that counts. You can have a gifted IQ but still languish below on the vertical launch pad, a point that is obvious if you consider the sorry state of contemporary academia. Plenty of big-brained primates there, all messed up with no place to grow (up, that is).
As such, past historical impasses have been broken through in one of two ways: either a vertical ascent by some great hero from this side of manifestation, or a descent of the divine energy into time or into a particular person (technically known as a “avatar,” this happens much more often than you might realize).
The vehicle of both ascent and descent is said to be a “resurrection body,” the perfected self, unencumbered by the accidents and distortions of horizontality. It is actually already there calling you–wherever there is–just waiting for you to catch up.
Have you ever been acquainted with your resurrection body? I’ll bet you have. Again, this is one of the main purposes of religious language–to provide a means for talking about an otherwise immaterial and nonsensuous dimension. Light, transparent, bright, freely coursing energy… these are all gladjectives that apply.
In the gospels, it says that Jesus gave a few disciples the privilege of seeing his vertical body of light. What must that have been like? First, of course, the disciples had to “ascend” vertically, “high upon a mountain.” There, within the orbit of their highest aspiration, Jesus’ face “shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Then Jesus held a summit conference with two other luminous bodies, Moses and his shadowy double, Elijah. Wo! What was that all about?
Our physical body is on loan from nature, whom we must repay at the end of our days. “Thou owest nature a death.” But looked at vertically, the body is descended from the spirit, not vice versa. Death, or disincarnation, involves separation of the vertical from the horizontal. Reincarnation is simply a way to talk about their mysterious union down here in 4D.
Let me conclude by saying that this is one of those topics which I am happy to throw open to debate. My responses are meant to provoke thought, not to be the last word.
That was sort of a lame post. When SGA asked about reincarnation, I should have just said “Hell, I don’t know,” and left it at that. Believe it or not, I hate to speculate. For one thing, it makes religious metaphysics look subjective and conjectural, like theories of global warming. My whole point is that religions not only reveal objective truths, but a core of truths that cannot not be.
True, there is a penumbra around any religion (or any science, for that matter), a dark area encircling the light, into which we can project anything we choose. This is where occultists and mere theologians rush into the breach and spookulate about what they do not know. Properly speaking, this is not theology but theodoxy, or “opinions about God” rather than “knowledge of God.” Such vain chatter is nothing more than an agitation in the cosmic void–as Whitehead called it, “the fallacy of vacuous actuality.” Religion is then reduced to philosophy, little more than idle deidreaming, the codification and fetishization of the lower mind’s ability to doubt anything.
Interestingly, the one thing that I wasn’t speculating about probably seemed the most speculative, and that was my crack about the “astral body,” or “body of light.” All traditions speak in their own way of some such similar experience–again, don’t get hung up on the words–and I think I have some idea of what these traditions are talking about. Many people who undertake a spiritual practice–apparently some more than others–are subject to all sorts of sometimes bewildering (and not always pleasant) physical sensations and experiences. This is something I haven’t specifically posted on in the past, in part because I am still in the thick of it and haven’t figured it out myself. It would be nice if it were a stable phenomenon, but it is anything but, so there is no stable conclusion I can draw at the moment–religious or otherwise.