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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Force Majeure?

I posted a comment about the Newtown Connecticut bloodbath on Facebook tonight.
Was this tragedy a "Force Majeure"? The act of an extremely deranged young man whose mental illness and consequent nihilist and malevolent moral incapacity rendered him essentially the human equivalent of a tornado or meteorite striking that school? And consequently, in viewing it that way, can we simply argue that placing any ostensibly "reasonable" restrictions on the acquisition and use of assault weapons would not have made any inhibitory or preventive difference?

Shit happens?

Are we simply left, then, with dueling antagonistic, frequently epithet-overloaded speculative arguments, many of them based on the weakest (and most cherry-picked) of empirical evidence, buttressed and amplified by the most fevered illogic ? Some of them that hark to a time of a frontier nation comprised of less than 1% of today's U.S. population, a new nation still smoldering from the flames of war on its soil, a nation where the relative "balance of power" expressed via citizen vs government armaments was orders of magnitude smaller compared to that of today?

Are we left to simply argue that the ONLY thing preventing our self-government from devolving into despotism is our putatively prophylactic "Right to Bear Arms"?

I Don't Buy It.

UPDATE, MAY 9th 2013

I really tire of the massive glandular Straw Man thinking around the 2nd Amendment.
The second amendment in effect prevents the national government from destroying the militias of the states and preserves a personal right that is centuries old. Joel Barlow, the Connecticut wit and writer, in 1792 sagely declared that a tyrant disarms his subjects to "degrade and oppress" them, knowing that to be unarmed "palsies the hand and brutalizes the mind," with the result that people "lose the power of protecting themselves." But arms privately held can be dangerous to society. President George Washington once reminded Congress that "a free people ought not only be armed but disciplined." He meant that the militias of his time had to be under military authority or, in the frequently used phrase, should be "a well-regulated" militia. However, we no longer depend on militias, a fact that in some respects makes the right to keep and bear arms anachronistic. An armed public is not the means of keeping a democratic government responsible and sensitive to the needs of the people. As the Supreme Court said in 1951, in Dennis v. United States: "That it is within the power of Congress to protect the government of the United States from armed rebellion is a proposition which requires little discussion." Whatever hypothetical value there might be, the Court said, in the notion that a "right" against revolution exists against dictatorial government "is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change." The Court added, "We reject any principle of government helplessness in the face of preparations for revolution, which principle, carried to its logical conclusion, must lead to anarchy."

The right to keep and bear arms still enables citizens to protect themselves against law breakers, but it is a feckless means of opposing a legitimate government. The so-called militias of today that consist of small private armies of self-styled superpatriots are entitled to their firearms but deceive themselves in thinking they can withstand the United States Army. The Second Amendment as they interpret it feeds their dangerous illusions. Even so, the origins of the amendment show that the right to keep and bear arms has an illustrious history connected with freedom even if it is a right that must be regulated.

Professor Leonard W. Levy. Origins of the Bill of Rights (pp. 148-149). Kindle Edition.
Click the image and save. Pay it forward.

Advocating Treason because you don't get your way on every issue of passionate concern to you is the very definition of juvenile idiocy.

Committing Treason will quickly get you justifiably culled from the Herd. Count on it. I will not be holding any Candelight Vigil for you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Socioeconomic Drama

There is a long-established, conceptually simple, cogent cognitive psych model of dysfunctional interpersonal behavior known as "Script Theory." It emanated decades ago from Eric Berne's work on "Transactional Analysis." Within this model is the Rescuer-Victim-Persecutor concept:
  • I, the benevolent intervenor, arrogate to myself the right to and imperative of "rescuing" you, the "Victim" from your plight(s);
  • You, the "Victim," irritated by (or just apathetic toward) my putatively altruistic and unsolicited ministrations, react with insufficient gratitude and attitude/behavior change;
  • which then give me the right to demonize and persecute you.
Think about it.

The supportive psych literature is rather voluminous.

I pretty much buy it. Occam's Razor simplicity and all that. Think about the drama you repeatedly witness (or participate in) within your family and social circles. 

Shorter Claude Steiner: to the extent that you live a "scripted" life, you are not free.

Of late I can't help but observe that our society in the aggregate is now in the "Persecutor" phase of socioeconomic dynamics, in the wake of our recent disappointments. Ironic, given all this hyperbolic talk about "freedom" of late.

It's probably cyclical. We tend to oscillate between maxima and minima of concerns over "social justice."

Unless you've been off incommunicado in a cave of late, you've seen it.

  • Presidential Candidate Ron Paul gets loud, angry cheers during a GOP primary "debate" wherein he summarily shrugs off the moral implications of allowing the destitute to die at the ER curbside (and, he's a physician, no less).
  • The fatuous writings of the late Ayn Rand (raging against "Moochers" and "Looters") have risen to new popularity.
  • A nationally known AM radio host loudly demeans a woman as a "slut" and a "prostitute"because of her advocacy for contraceptive rights.
  • The long-term jobless are described as "lazy." It is argued, among other things, that they be subjected to drug testing as a condition of eligibility for unemployment compensation. Ron Paul's senator son Rand claims in late 2013 that extended employment insurance is a "disservice" to the jobless.
I could do a very long bullet list.

But, you get the idea. The "failures of liberalism" give us convenient license to blame the the unfortunate, poor, and inept.

The adversity POV:
Ich, Du, Sie

  • I innocently suffered a misfortune.
  • You should have done more to avoid calamity.
  • He is is a parasite, a Moocher.
We tend to attribute our successes to acumen and initiative, while declaiming responsibility for our misfortunes, which are proffered to be the result of bad luck or the machinations of more powerful adversarial others.

More to come...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

Notwithstanding all of the incessant tabloid drama surrounding her tragic human failings, this woman's voice incontrovertibly made the world a better place. It's really that simple. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On "Envy"

So, tonight, I'm watching the SAG Awards on TV with one eye/ear as I tend to other stuff. I just had this tangentially connective thought as I ruminate on the 2012 presidential campaign.
MITT ROMNEY: "This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success."

"The bitter politics of envy?"

Well, apropos of Mr Romny's facile assertion, the graphic above pretty much sums up my "religious" beliefs, in addition to the "Thou Shalt Not Covet" admonishment of the Ten Commandments. Not that I'd fully assimilated all of that by age 5 or 10 or so. It took a remorse-precipitating, reflective whack upside the head by Kant and others in Grad School to fully drive the point home.

Well, so, yeah, of course, Mr. Romney's comment is the to-be-expected low-road hyperbole characteristic of much of American politics any more. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and others have expediently riffed on this same shallow and dishonest anti-Obama theme ad nauseum as well.

to wit:

(Jan 29th, ABC News) House Speaker John Boehner defended calling President Obama’s economic message “almost un-American,” saying that the president is dividing middle income and wealthy Americans.

On Tuesday before the State of the Union address, Boehner criticized the president’s calls for increasing taxes on the wealthy, telling a group of reporters, “This is a president who said I’m not going to be a divider, I’m going to be a uniter, and running on the politics of division and envy is — to me it’s almost un-American.”

In an interview on “This Week,” Boehner told me, “What I’m talking about here is the politics of dividing America, the politics of envy. This is not the American way.”

As I watch the latest annual tripartite mutual love feast celebration of the Hollywood gliterati (Globes, SAG, and Oscars), I am struck by the extent to which we, in the aggregate, love our cinema stars and those who produce their works, people who mostly live lives of luxury utterly beyond our comprehension. Yeah, we'd all like to experience such comforts and perks. But, we don't begrudge them theirs.

NOTE: I am more in love with the work they do. It never ceases to amaze me that any film every gets made. The technical, logistical, financial, and ego-management requirements make the mind boggle if you are a diligent student of film at all (e.g., Google "Heaven's Gate").
Mr. Romney, we don't resent "success," we resent those who obtain it via slick zero-sum subterfuge that adds nothing to the advancement of a just, sustainable civilization.

People like you.