2009-02-28

Is Ideology Dead?

In one of my previous posts, it was suggested to me by two men (Paul and Man of Roma) who far exceed me in wisdom, that ideological labels such as "conservative" and "liberal" don't mean anything anymore. Certainly, I've discussed this in the past myself but like an unstable swing (you know, the one that's not screwed on properly) I tend to sway on the notion of conservatism or liberalism being outdated.

Just read, for example, The Liberal, National Review, The Nation and National Interest to see if this position is true. Something tells me it would be news to the writers of these publications. It seems to me, ideology may have lost its place among politicians but in the realm of political philosophy and theory it does remain alive.

Or, at the very least, it looks as though, and I speak loosely here, conservatism has aligned itself with libertarianism (though a real tight-assed conservative will say it's the opposite) and liberals with socialists. Then again, I've seen conservative websites with the tag or button "Stop the ACLU." But these sites tend to be more neoconservative in orientation than of the classical version. Just like liberals who don't buy into the Marxist or socialist agenda by those among them.

Let's stop here for the sake of brevity. Add what you think to this premise. But it does bring me to my question:

Are we in a post-ideological world?

I'm not convinced.

2009-02-27

A Little Political Fun


I know. I should lay off the guy.

David Suzuki Is Conservative?

Here's a link to an article by Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen titled "The not so good old days."

The reason why I post the article is less for his interesting (to me anyway) depiction of David Suzuki (seriously, get over it. Things weren't better in another era, David) and more for his attempt to equate Suzuki's environmental bantering with conservatism.

Suzuki a conservative? Who knew?

Gardner begins:

"Ask someone of a progressive bent to identify annoying mental habits of conservatives and a few points are likely to come up.

There's the tendency to see simple cartoons instead of complex realities. The disregard of contrary views and evidence. The lack of appreciation for science and technology. And of course there's the embarrassing nostalgia for a golden age that never was.

Which brings me to David Suzuki.

No one describes Canada's patron saint of the environment as a conservative. He and his fans certainly don't. And most conservatives would laugh at the suggestion.

But there is a certain type of environmentalist -- green comes in many shades -- who typifies the worst qualities of conservative thinking. And David Suzuki typifies that type of environmentalist."

Remember Dana Carvey on SNL with his "in my day" sketch? This is what I thought of while reading the article.

If I read his opening correctly (and I think I d0) I must conclude this is a specious argument. Linking Suzuki's thinking to conservatism that is.

I have no clue what type of conservative he is referencing so forgive me if I just assume conservatism in general.

First off, it's interesting to note that he does a good job of refuting Suzuki's beliefs with facts but fails to accord the same reasoning (and respect) towards conservatism. To dismiss conservatives as simpletons is absurd and without fact is to give into perceptions.

Conservatives, I would submit, actually understand the complexities of history more than given credit for. In fact, history has always been the strong point of conservatives. His conservative slugging also suggests conservatism has not evolved -or is incapable of evolving; which of course is not the case. Conservatives, like liberals, have been on the wrong and right side of history and have learned from this.

Conservatives believe in small and limited government, fiscal responsibility and the power of the individual to enhance society. By contrast, liberals now accept government as a necessary force to reign in our flaws and vices. Unlimited government is tolerated so long as it aims to make society better no matter how inefficient. Society comes before the individual.

Now to some of you astute readers, you should be wondering "but isn't the collectivity a tenet of conservatism?" Yes, it is. However, somewhere in the 20th century, and I could be wrong since this is just an amateur assumption, wires were crossed. Ironically, conservatives now look to preserve and protect the institutions liberals built while liberals are looking elsewhere. Where, I'm not sure.

Suzuki does not possess any of the aforementioned conservative traits. And being "grumpy" is a trait not easily defined by ideology.

Instead, Gardner grabs one aspect of conservatism - traditionalism - and applies the tag to Suzuki. And even then, the notion of traditionalism is not as myopic as Gardner seems to believe. Traditionalism, after all, is the glue that binds culture.

On the idea of "harking back to a good old days" Well, liberals are guilty of the same thing. Everyone pulls things (facts, whatever) out of context to prove a contemporary point. Notice how every culture of the past, Natives for instance, are always romantically depicted by liberals- as but one small example. If anything, the idea as the West as a corrosive force finds more solace in liberalism than it does among conservatives. In fact, liberals tend to also believe man is the enemy - not conservatives. And this falls closer in line with Suzuki.

Does this mean liberals grasp "complexities" more?

In my view, Suzuki doesn't "typify" any ideology per se but if he does it's more in line with liberalism.

Last, let's speak of aging for a sec. How does he know if grumpy old men weren't once liberals?

I don't even know what "a person with a progressive bent" even means.

In the end, who owns the right to "progress" anyway?

2009-02-26

We Are All Socialists Now

A trillion dollar rescue package will do that to you.

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Norman Thomas, U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate 1940, 1944 and 1948.

And that's exactly what's happening. People are socialist without knowing or fully comprehending how much of their personal liberty they've abdicated. Socialism has become so "ethereal" the actual cost to maintain its ideals are overlooked without much scrutiny. Government involvement and intervention is the norm now.

Just like it's impossible to be a capitalist democrat, it's misleading to claim to be a socialist democrat. Democracy is just a shell - like an RRSP. What you fill it with will determine how free and just you will be. I don't believe socialism is a natural complement to democracy or the ideals of American liberalism.

Socialism on its own can't raise enough funds generated from the free will and generosity of citizens because the force of its ideas have limits on citizens. Instead, it relies on notions of subsidies and coerced taxes to keep its dream alive.

Socialism aims for a just and egalitarian society. Here's the rub, if the people designing and implementing public policy (and running public companies) aren't angels - or close to them - all you're going to get is a set of seriously flawed ideas that lead to an unjust and unequal society. It will accomplish exactly the opposite of its stated intentions.

The story of socialism is too much of a sweet one for people, particularly liberals, to turn down. President Obama, by the way, is not a classic liberal nor will he restore liberalisms great heritage. He's a bunch of confused things.

Talk about prescient words by Mr. Thomas.

2009-02-25

Unique Questions And Problems

Dear The Commentator reader (s),

I have a problem. I moved into my new house. It's great. We're all having a great time frolicking about in and out of its elegant but modern architectural designs. There's only one problem: we still have figured out how to move the owners of our dream house out.

Also, if I'm left handed why aren't I on the left side of the political spectrum? Marxists, Communists and Socialists - you name it. Has there ever been a study done on this?

I eagerly await your thoughtful (and banal) responses.

Thank you.

You Are Left And I Am Right

I find something bizarre.

The left hand side of the political equation is on the offensive. They think they smell blood. Be careful, the Obamavamps are out to get ya.

Popular among its assertions is that the Republican message is "old and stale." What I find utterly weird is the alternative they pimp has long past its expiration date - the sad thing is they don't even realize it.

Notably, they have a problem with the notion of limited government and solving problems at the individual level. I can't see how this is "stale." The message is repeated because it's the correct one. It's ludicrous to attack it when the only verbal weapon applied to refute it basically adds up to, "government is good and is a partner."

Happiness is a warm gun...indeed. Bang, bang.

Call me nuts, but to me, the left are the ones who are beyond tiresome in their message. They don't have one. At least, I still can't figure it out. So I would appreciate some help on this front.

Trust me, if they had something of value to say, I'd be all over them like a mobster on a plate of linguine con le vongole.

Here's how I look at it. If we're to take the inherent core value and message of both parties (or ideologies) who has the "better" message? Which one resonates with you on a personal level.

I always side with the one that believes in the individual because it means they have faith in me.

2009-02-23

On The Nature Of Man

I remember this question from a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon (of all places.)

Is man inherently good with some bad tendencies, or is man inherently bad with some good tendencies.

Or we plain and plump neutral deciding what direction we'll go thanks to free will?

Simple question with complex considerations no doubt.

2009-02-22

Friedman Part Deux

Klein has no right to make the assertions she makes in this video. Her ability to interpret Friedman in a larger context is shockingly inadequate.

Equating personal liberty and responsibility, as far as Friedman's ideas go, to mass corruption and torture (in but one example) is staggeringly unfair. She asserts he had a direct hand in what happened in Chile. He didn't. For his part, Friedman's explanation of how Latin American students were schooled at the Chicago school is correct. What followed with Allende was a political event; not an economic one. It wasn't about instilling an evil version of liberty with Pinochet at its head to complete a mad economic policy. Friedman never advocated "shock therapy." Rather, to his belief, individual liberty was a natural law of humanity. It rarely, if ever, needs coercing. Why would anyone need to be coerced to be free?

How do I know? I had to present a paper in university, to an expert on South American and Chilean affairs, precisely about this subject.

Interestingly, the theory of "shock therapy" is applied to environmentalism and its policies.

At the end of the day, Klein espouses government intervention to "regulate" and "monitor" corrupt individuals regardless of those who follow the law and enhance the free market system. The base root of the market collapse is a government one in which Wall St. all too willingly supported. But because there were assholes on both sides doesn't mean we should condemn the capitalist system.

Klein is a nouveau-socialist who profits of a capitalist system through the selling of her books. However, there's one thing she fails to mention (or possibly grasp or comprehend) is that greed does have its own kryptonite: it's called fear. That's the secret ingredient to why the free market enterprise survives.

But I want to be careful here. The widening gap between rich and poor is indeed a problem that must not persist - although, more than any point in history, poor people are becoming wealthier. The power of multinationals does threaten democracy. That companies and industries are concentrated into the hand of fewer and fewer people is a phenomena that took place under all systems. Somewhere along the line, capitalism and socialism got their wires crossed and it's time to untangle them.

This is the real challenge of our times (and one Klein to her credit fights) and one I'm sure Friedman would not accept. So there's common ground to be found. The reasons for it (widening gap) are complex - physics anyone?

About the poor getting wealthier. The question is whether they're keeping pace with the rich. Maybe both are accelerating but at different rates? In any event, these are intriguing questions and I just don't see any merit in Klein's approach in dealing with them. No one seems to speak of the Tiger economies of the East who shifted their policies to capitalism. The results have been impressive. Amazing what a little free choice can do.

In any event, Friedman will still be around for posterity. Klein? I'm not so sure.

I thoroughly enjoy how he dissects his opponents.

Milton Friedman: A Man Of Liberty

You know, I just don't honor Milton Friedman enough on this blog given my personal preference and penchant for liberty talk.

Someone once asked me what I thought of Naomi Klein. "Not a fan," I replied. No. I'm just not a fan. I ask, when you see this, who possesses a greater mind? Friedman or Klein?

Actually, I create an intellectual injustice by pitting Mr. Friedman with Klein.

2009-02-20

Rick Santelli: Marry Me

Figuratively speaking of course.

The downturn is weighing in on people.

2009-02-19

Existing Without A Cause

Since we live in a "my opinion is as good as yours" society rampant with mediocrity, we've "leveled the playing field" for some shlepp to slam greater minds than their own.

Don't you get that feeling?

The biggest problem facing greater access to information - thus knowledge - is that most people are sufficiently equipped and trained to decipher and interpret what's before them.

Greater access to knowledge doesn't necessarily equate to being smarter. By extension, it won't translate into being better citizens either. In other words, knowledge can lack depth or etiquette.

For example,"universal truths and principles" no longer belong to our collective historical and societal conscience. No. We've strained and reduced it to the lowest and last common denominator: the individual. My "truth" is equal to the guy standing next to me. My culture is not greater than the next. Or, my interpretation of history is equal to the history teacher. Or my personal favorite, actors believing themselves to be foreign affairs experts.

This is all nonsense of course. Let's give everyone a "thanks for participating" ribbon and be done with it already. That way, we can all go make potato salad as we wallow in absurd intellectual meekness.

Talk about over rating oneself. I don't know how people do it. I'm personally so racked with self-doubt it pains me to literally right anything. I'm driven by my own vulnerability. That is, I can only explore what I do and don't know until I arrive to some respectable, reasonable and acceptable answer or truth. Surely even truth has an end point of sorts?

Think of all the great literature and epics in human history. They were all rooted in universal themes. There is no original thought. Just different spins of what defines humanity. One of the most disingenuous and frivolous piece of advice to give someone is to demand they be "original."
My idea of good and bad; right and wrong was probably the same as Homer's version or Dante's.

Not in contemporary times. Somehow, someway, something got lost in the shuffle. We've neutralized morality to the point there's no clear idea of collective morality (or social etiquette) anymore. If I don't want to say "thank you" for someone holding the door that's my business. If that person is insulted too bad. Then don't hold it for me since I didn't ask for it.

So who will "right" this ship? Intellectuals have given into the modern approach of relativism. For their part, politicians, save for a disunited few here and there scattered across the globe, merely follow the trends to maintain power.

Anyone?

Blatant Double Standards From Le Peuple

I didn't see footage of - cue the spiritual - Obama invading, erm, visiting Ottawa. Nothing like watching politically apathetic Canadians with massive inferiority complexes run after a President more popular than our own. What a country.

Whatever and nonetheless, I did hear some priceless comments from people about the event.

One lady compared Obama to Moses. As the modern Moses, he was going to bring peace to the world and Afghanistan was going to be the first place he was going to make work because "there are terrorists in Afghanistan."

So let me get this straight. When Bush was talking about the need to democratize Afghanistan the world laughed in his face. When Obama says it, people accept it?

Worse, we call our own leader a "puppet of the Americans" for deciding to fulfill a promise he didn't make to stay in Afganny-stan until 2001. In fact, you can't imagine how many times I've read on political threads that erroneously claiming "Harper took us into Afghanistan." No he didn't. The Liberals did.

On the economy, someone said his "top-bottom" stimulus package would work. He claimed there was going to be a "trickle down" effect right down to the "people." Funny, if I'm not mistaken, wasn't that how Reaganomics worked? And look how popular he's among the "mainstream."

In the young and naive corner, one student said Obama was "very intelligent and a great President." Based on what exactly wasn't forthcoming. But hey, she was a student. They're supposed to be stupid. As long as they exercise their mind without scant lessons in critical thinking it's all good.

Ooof, the double standards are dizzying to the point of giving me vertigo.

Kafka couldn't make it any more surreal.

2009-02-18

Fill In The Blank

God is to religion what man is to...blank.

Revisionism is to history what fire is to...blank.

Don't look at me. I'm blank.

Can American Power Actually Grow?

...despite the economic downturn? You know what they say, in every downturn there's opportunity.

I mentioned that Obama was, ironically, acting like a unilateralist when he threatened the world with his protectionist flexing. I say ironic because the demand for a multilateral world (another way of saying controlling American power) is so great it's hard to believe a President looked upon so well would consider unilateral measures.

But Obama is the leader of the United States of America, and like his predecessor who was fond of saying this, it's not a popularity contest. Obama will look to preserve and enhance American power.

Speaking of which, all trends seem to point to a permanent and slow decline in American power. Many people have weighed in on that exact subject. They include Quebec intellectuals (who are too busy wasting our time with petty stuff anyway), European magazines and glitzy American publications. All have presented their cases to declare death to American power. All have rushed to claim a multi-polar world is back. Sure, some present persuasive, if not elegant, arguments to this possibility. But I remain unconvinced. I look over to America and still see a nation not ready to die.

What can I say? I don't scare easy.

Let me put it bluntly: There is no economy and society as powerful and free-standing as America. The sheer breadth of its enterprise is unmatched anywhere. The Germans, Japanese and Chinese (and the EU) can speak ill of America all they like (no doubt hoping to raise their own relative power positions) but they quite possibly face far more daunting tasks and realities. Of all the nations (and I say this with utmost respect to the aforementioned societies), I believe in America most to come out on top.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't major concerns within the American empire. There are. On a nation by nation basis, when one looks at it as a whole, America is in the best position to succeed and progress.

It's odd. Here I am playing contrarian to the American declinists but I do feel Western civilization (I will post about this shortly) as a whole is on a slow downward trend. That's why, collectively, we must all root for America to cure itself. They're the last torch holders of Western culture. They rise and succeed; we all do. They fall and fail; we all do. It's as simple as that.

From Asia Times Online:

"The silliest thing that clever people are saying about the world economic crisis is that the United States will lose its position as the dominant world superpower in consequence. On the contrary: the crisis strengthens the relative position of the United States and exposes the far graver weaknesses of all prospective competitors. It makes the debt of the American government the world's most desirable asset. America may deserve to decline, but as Clint Eastwood said in another context, "deserve's got nothing to do with it". President Barack Obama may turn out to be the most egregious unilateralist in American history. "

"...To overpay unionized construction workers to build bridges, and bail out the bloated budgets of American states, the Obama administration will flood the world with so much Treasury debt that capital will flow out of the poorest countries to buy it. Rather than protest this outrageously unilateralist action, the rest of the world encourages him to do so, hoping that somehow the Obama stimulus package will get American consumers to buy their goods once again. During the Reagan years, the rest of the world had the right to grumble about the dominance of the American economy. Now that American policy has become a millstone around the necks of most of the world's economies, the rest of the world's leaders flatter Obama while he beats them. No Republican president ever had it so good."

2009-02-17

Introducing Robert Mundell

February is turning out to be economics months here.

Standing in the Canadian corner: Nobel prize winner and influential economist Robert Mundell.

We hear a whole lotta Krugman and Keynes; but Mundell?

Link Of Interest: Economy

Not everyone in Quebec believes in stimuli packaging. An anti-stimulus declaration by Quebec economists...

America Shall Resurrect

The Uncler is the most pungent movie to date:

25 Dirtiest Cities In The World

16 of the 25 cities reside in Africa. While India made the list twice and Russia once, China managed to avoid it.

Spending Without Real Cause

Every once in a while I come across an article I completely agree with. Anyone with half a business sense knows the spending proposed by North American governments won't do anything. In fact, they may even end up hurting us more.

I know. I read liberal web sites - let's pick on them shall we? Here's the thing about liberals: They tolerate government interventionism. It makes perfect sense to them. After all, it's excessive greedy individualism that's brought us to this point. To say nothing of conservative deregulation forces. They base their cure to the problem on what they've seen in the last eight years.

But this is a myopic view. If anything, the jig is up on how liberals approach economics. They can say all they want about the evils of tax cuts and such but the real bankrupted economic policies come from the left.

It's over. Give it up. They ask "what's the alternative?" Well, let the deadbeats be purged, handle the pain, cut taxes, save money, take a hit and be stronger down the road. It's not pretty but that's the real road to take. When you lose money in the markets do you borrow more to try and get yourself out of it or do you find the mental strength to start over and save? I know what I'd do.

Eric Margolis is closer to the truth than Paul Krugman - who to me, has lost his mind:

"A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery. Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clich├ęs about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts."

I think this opening paragraph is one gigantic clinker. Read the rest of his bizarre piece in the link provided. I've dissected his article but chose not to post it.

Contrast this with Margolis who is far more prudent:

"...Politicians everywhere are panicking as voters demand they do something to keep their debt-driven economies running in high gear. This is impossible. The debt bubble has burst. But politicians are afraid to tell voters the hard truth: the party is over. Retrench, stop borrowing, cut spending, start saving, live smaller."

"...Now, Obama and his team of Democratic Kenysian economists hope to spend the US out of deep recession by dishing out US $ 2.2 trillion in freshly printed money. I might add: Backed by nothing. It's like printing counterfeit money.
The famed 1930’s economist Lord Keynes claimed governments could correct recessions by massive deficit spending which would be repaid when boom times returned. His theories have become a state religion for liberals on the left of the Democratic Party.
But massive deficit spending is like treating a poison victim with more big doses of poison. This kind of economic voodoo reminds me of medieval medicine: try every kind of dangerous procedure until you either kill the patient or he somehow survives the doctors."

Europeans are right to be concerned by the fact if Keynesian spending goes wild it will lead to hyper-inflation. Obama should cool it.

Who Has More Credibility: IDF Or Hamas?

Just a couple of things I want to mention.

During the recent Israel-Hamas showdown, both sides waged a propaganda war. Each presenting facts and pictures - for example, the sides representing IDF and Hamas. If you're predisposed to believe in Israel, a democratic state, then you'll take IDF reports more at heart. If you side with the plight of the Palestinians, then Hamas disclosures will probably confirm any suspicions you may have about Israel.

The thing I don't get is this: I don't know who's worse of the two, but why would anyone think Hamas has any credibility? Their detestable and contemptible methods, excuses aside, are well known.

It's ok to be skeptical about this whole mess but it seems to me Hamas wouldn't stand a chance in front of Judge Judy.

2009-02-15

Pre Mid-life Personality Crisis

To post or not to post?

That's the question I've been posing myself these past few days.

There's too much nonsense going on for me to keep up with.

I'm unsure where my writing style is going for now. One day I want to go all vulgar and medieval on everyone and the next I'm pondering the decline of Western art. One moment I'm into writing bits of nothing, the next my ambitions want me to save civilization. But I have no cape. Or leotards for that matter.

Then I shrug my shoulders, grab a piece of fruit and watch curling. What seems so painfully obvious to me is not to the case to the regressive semi-conscious organism breathing heavily next to me.

This blog is many things to many people from many places. To the Eskimo it's a taste of urban intellectualism gone mad. To mothers everywhere it's a reminder of a boy they once knew. Maybe even of eroticism? To the homeless person it's proof that something does exist without knowing, seeing or feeling it. To the Magyars it's the smell of anger.

True story. One day in high school, a substitute took over our geography class. Naturally, we paid no attention to the man who looked like Boris from Rocky and Bullwinkle - I don't 'zaggerate. As we performed act after act after verbal vile act, the vociferous villain lost his mind. A fellow rabble rouser finally asked, "Sir, what's that smell?" To which the good teacher, decked in a loud red shirt and belt boasting a buckle with a red ruby - answered, "It's the smell of anger!"

We laughed. Oh , Lord did we laugh.

He followed this sequence with a question of his own. "Which junior high are you guys from?" "St.Paul's," someone replied. A sudden moment of quiet realization overcame him. "Yes. I heard about you guys."

Yes. I was what was termed a "troublesome" student. Nothing evil or violent; just a restless kid with an over-active imagination. In fact, the gang, though terrible students (except for a couple of guys), were quite appreciated by teachers "off school time." We'd spend quite a bit of time talking about physics, art and music, politics and history and host of other subjects we had a strong grasp on. It frustrated teachers because they believed we should have been not just good students but great ones.

I don't know why we were never able to get our act together. Still, as a whole, the gang turned out to be pretty successful. They became engineers, financial analysts and foreign services officers. Me? Let's just say I'm still a work in progress. But we won't get into that. I still haven't figured out how my mind functions exactly.

A modern axiom of business - indeed anything - is to find you niche. I hear this about blogging a lot. Do you get the feeling things are over-niched?

Which I guess is a good thing. There's something for everyone. Of course, it can lead to a personality crisis. Or pointless posts.

It's claimed that punk began with the New York Dolls:

2009-02-12

Plains Of Abraham: Our History Our Memory

History is really a story about who we are. A story is an event,which, independent of partisanship, defines a nation.

A society and its people who confront and face their history is a sign of intellectual and social maturity. Those who seek to deny it on the most frivolous and partisan of justifications are the voices of incoherence; of hollow and shallow insecurity.

From the Toronto Star:

Political commentators called the plan an insult, sovereignists expressed outrage, and even federalist Premier Jean Charest criticized it and promised to stay away.

Now Ottawa says it might back down from the 250th anniversary re-enactment of the Quebec City battle that helped lead to British dominance in North America."

These are the holders of our collective heritage? These are the people where power resides? This is how sick and weak-kneed and completely lost in our drivel we have become?

That the Plains of Abraham would become so politicized is sad on its own. But to proclaim publicly concern over a reenactment is a national disgrace showcasing Canada's stupidity internationally.

If these people would remove themselves, even for one second, from their self-serving swamp-talk, they would see the Plains of Abraham as not just a moment that took place on Canadian soil. Its ramifications, while immediate and long-lasting here, traveled across the globe leaving an impact on international affairs.

In short, the Plains of Abraham was one of the most important battle in world history. Yet, we have small-minded civil servants and "political commentators" seeking to deny a reenactment of it?

National parochial group think has draped itself across this land helping to foster a denial and complete disregard of who we are.

I have no respect for such minds. I would not shake the hands of any of these men who clearly show low leadership qualities. To think my tax money goes to such pathetic political masters!

Here are the main culprits:

Heritage Minister James Moore
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Quebec Premier Jean Charest
The Nameless Head of the National Battlefields Commission

Or put another way: Gutless cowards.

Who stands for Canada anymore? Anyone?

A society that permits petty voices the power to cause a pointless ruckus is not only an immature society but a lost one as well.

2009-02-10

Putting American Foreign Policy History On Trial

I don't know. This one really has me scratching my head.

That reminds me. I need to go buy some Head and Shoulders.

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick, wants to investigate the Bush administration. There are calls for taking all his cronies "away in hand cuffs" from many people. Some have also compared it to an American version of the Nuremberg Trials.

Fair enough.

My concern is: What exactly are they trying to accomplish?

It seems to me, if they put Bush on the stand, the history of American foreign policy will essentially be put on trial.

From Andrew Jackson (who expanded Federal authority and pushed forward with Manifest Destiny in concert with Jeffersonian policies) to FDR (who advocated war with Spain to protect and export American values also suppressed a rebellion in the Philippines and built the Panama Canal which came at a substantial human cost) to Woodrow Wilson (who was active in Latin America prior to WWI invading Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic) - American imperialism or empire building or whatever you want to call it has an active trail.

More recently, JFK (who kicked started the Vietnam festivities as I've pointed out in the past as well as the architect behind the Bay of Pigs) and Bill Clinton (and his role in Kosovo and Somalia) were extremely popular Presidents who oddly have escaped criticism in American public opinion - though Clinton I believe was sought by the Hague. Come to think of it, imagine taking all those leaders who lead Europe during the era of realpolitik during the Treaty of Westphalia years to court!

Now keep in mind, I'm aware international laws and treaties were different in the eras mentioned.

Anyway, at least Noam Chomsky doesn't pick sides. He has put American history on trial through his writings.

I digress.

It remains to be seen what strand of American foreign policy Obama will follow but what will be Obama's foreign policy leitmotif? Iran?

Anyway, this is just to point out American power is a tad complex and goes well beyond poor ole Georgy.

If this crusade was to begin a real and meaningful shift in American attitudes and values about new war frontiers and imperialism then so be it. Let justice and democracy guide a new America.

However, I'm skeptical this is the case.

This simply wreaks of short sighted political partisanship.
Singling Bush out is a massive showcase in hypocrisy and an outright exercise in denying American history.

2009-02-09

Non Sequitur Of The Day

If we don't ram this stimulus package through, we're all going to turn purple with polka dots.

If we don't spend our asses off, we'll catastrophically fall into an abyss without toilet paper.


Timeless Cinematic Beauty


I watched "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) a few weeks back and the movie still hits a soulful chord as I type.

The film, of course, is an adaption of John Steinbeck's classic novel. The novel was hotly debated among Americans at the time.

From wiki, (the book) "...was a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read." Steinbeck scholar John Timmerman sums up the book's impact: "The Grapes of Wrath may well be the most thoroughly discussed novel - in criticism, reviews, and college classrooms - of twentieth century American literature." Part of its impact stemmed from its passionate depiction of the plight of the poor, and in fact, many of Steinbeck's contemporaries attacked his social and political views. Bryan Cordyack writes, "Steinbeck was attacked as a propagandist and a socialist from both the left and the right of the political spectrum."

The film, in fact, was more guilty of socialist overtones than Steinbeck. I wonder what were the prevailing contemporary attitudes for people to hold the novel with skepticism.

Watching Tom Joad walk off after a poignant point of realization with his mother was a scene that simply will never die in cinema history. The scene also provided the memorable populist quote from Ma: "Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good an' they die out. But we keep a'comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."

Again from wiki: "In 1989, this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

All this to say, these days, I feel like Tom Joad in that final scene.

2009-02-08

The History Repeats Itself Myth

We often hear "history repeats itself" or that those who ignore it are "deemed to repeat it." And certainly, on the surface it looks that way. But does it?

I never felt comfortable with this even though I could never articulate it - I still can't. The vibe and sense I get doesn't jive.

The whole notion implies history is one long circular motion. Sure, there are universal principals and themes common to all threads in history however this doesn't mean it repeats itself. If it did how would we progress? If we know it's coming why think forward? Why dream? After all, it will repeat itself. All we need to do is wait. Furthermore, it implies the past are deterministic links to the present and future. We just have to follow the patterns.

Are we already mapped out in such a manner?

History, to me, is linear with many circles imprinted upon it. This is why we see similarities to the past but each circle is its own set of special circumstances.

For example, just because Germany and France failed to invade Russia doesn't mean it can't be invaded. If, say, China were to ever invade maybe it has a different strategy or seen a weakness in Russian defenses not observed by others. Maybe the geography on the Chinese-Russian borders are different and waiting to be exploited.

I'm just loosely illustrating a point.

We can't always look to the past. The past sometimes lies. We look to FDR for the way he handled the Depression. But new scholarship shows his hand in it was a little more complex - and less impressive. Those who support massive bail outs, for example, the claim "if you don't learn from the past" can't really find solace in FDR. Just the folly in their assumptions.

I deliberately and superficially use two simple examples.

Nonetheless, it's a question worth pondering.

Obama Still Searching For His Groove

When I first heard President Obama was creating a "Chief Performance Officer" I thought to myself, now there's a forced idea. Another one of those titles to make it look like we're doing something - just like we see in a corporation.

A CPO? Ironic given the reputation CEO's have. I know, this is "different" because it comes from he who would bring us "change." But government mean so well, give 'em a chance will ya?

The purpose of the CPO, among other things, is to "rebuild confidence" among people. Slap me a V-8, I wonder how we managed for centuries without one.

It's just another pointless layer of bureaucracy if you ask me. Like the Department of Indian Affairs we have here in Canada or the endless streams of councils.

However, the department of the CPO is off to a rough start after another one of Obama's appointees was forced to resign due to tax issues. Nancy Killefer will never get her chance to instill confidence.

I have some ideas of my own but I never was editor at a big, fancy school. Mind you, I never thought much of school organizations given the wannabe boobs that ran them.

Anyway.

Here are some of my ideas and this can apply to Canada. Clearly Obama is not going far enough:

Chief Moral Officer
Chief Responsibility Officer
Chief Household Budget Officer
Chief Values Officer
Chief Competition Officer
Chief Equality Officer
Chief Fairness Officer
Chief Accountability Officer
Chief Security Officer
Chief Diet Officer
Chief Environmental Officer
Chief Self-Esteem Officer
Chief Education Officer
Chief Intellectual Officer
Chief Freedom Officer
Chief Military Officer

Since we're on the subject of President Obama.

I recognize this post is not for those still giddy over Obama's election. In fact, we already know how they will rationalize his tenure once he's done: if he fails it will all be Bush's fault since he and he alone ruined the United States of America. But I feel compelled to follow him closely since he and his supporters claimed to bring "change." For me, just him sitting his butt down is not enough change. "They" say he's smarter than Bush, well let's see his jump shot so to speak.

One thing that drove the left mad was Bush's expansion of government to crush civil liberties (an indiscretion performed by several Presidents or any leader for that matter. Incidentally, when Bush was doing it they were calling America a "theocracy." What will they call it when Obama pursues this?), is his support for Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA.) A bill which leftist magazine The Progressive argues, "...allows the President to grab all incoming and outgoing international communications without a warrant."

They continue,

Obama, sounding on Friday a lot like Bush, said: “Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. Here’s what Bush said the same day as Obama: The bill “allows our intelligence professionals to quickly and effectively monitor the plans of terrorists abroad, while protecting the liberties of Americans here at home. But it doesn’t protect our liberties, and Obama ought to know that."

Ouch. No I mean, ouch. I just burnt my finger on the stove. Where was I? Oh yes, ouch!

Anyway, can his support of FISA be connected to the genuineness of his signing to close Abu Ghraib?

Then there's the issue of trade and economics. His recent protectionist talk reeks of trade unilateralism. Indeed, if he eschews international trade agreements, how will liberal internationalists (let alone Canadian supporters of Obama) rationalize such a move. The stimulus package is a monstrosity that aims to shock the system back into place. It may suit the likes of Paul of Krugman who insanely supports it, but to me it sounds like a typical recipe overdone and overused. America is not the only one raising protectionist policies. The thinking is to fix locally before going global. Another way to put it, charity begins at home. We'll see what happens at the next G-20 meeting.

Any chance the U.S. and EU lower agricultural subsidies? I know, I know.

Obama is set to change the "tone" of American foreign policy, but really how different will it be from its predecessor? You'll see small differences. For instance, Bush asked Middle-East parties to come up with their own proposals and solutions, Obama favors a more involved role for the U.S. It's nowhere near where it should be relative to his stature and promise as a liberal politician.

Whoopee-doo.

No matter how you cut it, he's clearly an interventionist god - erm President. The more we move along the less it becomes evident of what distinguishes him from Bush - or even the neo-con agenda.

PS: Congratulations to The Progressive in the year of its 100th anniversary.

The Sun, Global Warming And Politics

As I danced around this big, lawless thing called the intanet looking for information about how planet's (solar output) influence global warming, I stumbled on this post titled, Reasons why climate policy will collapse.

I agree with the statement:

"...And the politicians love to paint themselves as the saviors of the world. They also love to promise things that no one will be able to verify during their careers."

No kidding. Just like economic policy.

The author continues:

"You know, if someone promises 80% reductions of CO2 by 2050, that's just an irrational vacuous babbling, a nonsense analogous to promises that we will colonize Jupiter by the year 3000. Cheap politicians, presidents, lawmakers, and university presidents often promise such absurdities to be elected by a very low-quality segment of the electorate.

But this babbling is not the last part of the story.

Other politicians, policymakers, and activists are actually working hard to translate these nonsensical pledges into material plans to change the world. Unless a viable and quickly realizable alternative to fossil fuels emerges in a few decades, which is extremely far from a guaranteed scenario, the idea of an 80% reduction of CO2 emissions is clearly nothing less than a plan to destroy the world's economy in a way that would make the bombing of Germany in 1945 or other effects of world wars innocent children in comparison."

Incidentally, here's a post about global warming on other planets from the same site and another here.

Sarkozy Upsets Sensitive Sovereigntists

Well, well, well.

A French president took a forceful and clear stand against fracturing Canada while Premier Jean Charest stood meekly by. And there, for all to see, is how we can summarize Canadian leadership - in any language.

Of course, sovereigntists (in all their faux-populist pomp) are not enjoying this kind of exposure. They feel he's unfairly painting a negative picture of the movement. I say, they'll just have to learn to deal with opinions and criticisms. Here, they can just make up laws and close loop holes to discourage liberty. On the international stage, they're powerless.

Funny,they never seemed to have a problem with Charles de Gaulle intervening.

The best way to deal with it is to sell their ideas better. Tough sell indeed. In terms of exchanging ideas in the halls of international progress and intellectualism, Quebec has little to offer when it comes to its secessionist option - and that's just my non-sovereigntist opinion.

Quick! Close down the internet!

2009-02-07

The Mongolian Empire


-In terms of land mass under its control, Mongolia had one of the largest empires in history second only to the British empire. The Mongolian empire spawned to famous leaders in Ghengis (Chinggis) Khan and his grandson Kublai (Kubilai) Khan. Genghis is often regarded among the greatest military leaders and strategists of all time - although he's not usually mentioned alongside Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, George Washington etc.

A national hero in Mongolia, Genghis Khan was seen as a ruthless killer to the West. Indeed, he managed to get Eastern Europe under his banner. While some historians feel he left a path of destruction and little to show in the advancement of human history, others feel the contrary as his empire linked the east and west and forced a new sense of consciousness among peoples affected. From the History Cooperative, "Finally, the Mongol Empire remains in the popular consciousness. If not always properly understood, its image remains as terrifying as it did when Chinggis Khan first ascended the stairs to the pulpit of the mosque in Bukhara."

The Mongolian experience in Europe is an interesting one. From Macro History:

"In Hungary and Poland the Mongols were outnumbered but tactically superior. They defeated several Hungarian armies. In early April, 1241, at the Battle of Lenica (Liegnitz) in Poland, they defeated an army that is said to have included heavily armored Teutonic knights. Dying in the battle was the most powerful of Polish dukes, Henryk II (Henry II). In December the Mongols crossed the Danube River and approached Vienna. Then, mysteriously to Europeans, the Mongols retreated from central Europe. To the Europeans it seemed they had been saved by a miracle. A myth was to rise among the Poles that their brave warriors saved Europe from the Mongols. In reality, the Mongol withdrawal was in response to Ogedei's death, on December 11. High ranking Mongol army leaders believed they had to return to confirm the selecting of a new ruler."

For more on the influence of the Mongolian empire go here and here. The latter focuses on Russia.

As the first part of a trilogy, Mongol explores the childhood and rise of Temujin (Genghis) and his eventual establishment of the empire. The second film The Great Khan is expected to be out in 2010.

2009-02-06

Unripened Apples

I hate weeks like these. A combination of fatigue and want of writing and have conspired against posting anything over the last two days. If I were a newspaper I'd lose business.

But since I'm not...

It's not like I didn't try. But you know things aren't going to work out when you begin to watch programs you pay much attention to. I did craft several posts but didn't like where they took me.

Like unpaved roads and broken bridges they lie in my "draft" section.

As I wait for my leitmotif, I decided to let you in on a few things about me. I've never done this on this blog. Quick, call 20/20!

-I love apples. Rustic, Lobo, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Fuji, whatever.

Now you know me a little better.

Yukon Ho!

2009-02-04

National Budget: Bigibberishship



Yeah, about that budget.

Yeah.

Right.

In an earlier post I referred to the current session of parliamentarians as sluts with access to money.

After watching them pat each other on the back for a "job well done" it left me to ponder my life; my existence. Here are a bunch of, let's call them "politicians" congratulating themselves for essentially abandoning their principles (assuming they have any) under the guise of bipartisanship. That wasn't bipartisanship, that was one lousy party flexing its muscles with an unelected leader and the other bending over for it in order to merely survive.

Anyway, if this is what passes as "bipartisan" then it's as over rated as 'Sex in the City.' I know, the show is finished. I couldn't come up with an alternative. If the conservatives and liberals were to define their sexual orientation it would be "bisexual" with the Liberals acting like the Drama Queens - and the NDP as the gimps. I just had to add that in there.

I ask Mr. Harper what's the point of your existence now? Where in the world do you stand for conservative values after that budgetary performance? Ooo, did the Liberals pull a good one on you. All that money is going nowhere fast, wink, wink, if you get my drift.

Better the cash goes to cronies than the citizen. Such is the courageous Canadian solution to our economic confusion.

For the record, if I hear one more person say Canada is under the sway of "conservatism" I will, I will, break my pencil and exclaim, "aargh!" very loudly...and politely or course. I'll do it while biting into a Coffee Crisp.

True classic conservatism doesn't exist in Canada. If it does, I would like for someone to point it out to me.

The Music Never Died


Buddy Holly died in the flesh, but his immortal rock soul flourishes in the hearts and minds of music fans 50 years later.

As a friend said, "50 years ago rock lost part of its soul."

The day the music died. Five words dreamed up by Don McLean in 'American Pie' perfectly depicts the life and death of a rock'n roll icon. No phrase is more synonymous with Buddy Holly.

By now, most people know Holly was killed in a plane crash in 1959 at the young age of 23. Just twenty and three years into life and yet such a massive impact on pop culture. The tragedy ran still deeper as it claimed Latin-rock pioneer Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

I was first introduced to 50s rock'n roll when I was about 15 or so. From the onset it captured my imagination. While people saw it as "dated" or "corny" I saw the timelessness of the sound as well as the history and influence of the personalities. To me, they were true rebels. There's a certain special spirit to the music that can move a person just like a masterful symphony touches the inner-soul.

Did the music really die? I guess in an "innocent lost" kind of way. America went through massive social upheaval in the 1960s and it certainly felt like America's image itself as a teenage genius was changing. With it went the original sound of rock'n roll. The sound that Buddy Holly helped to invent and popularize.

Did rock evolve for the better? I'm sure people have their opinions. In many ways, the music of today does give the impression of being too technical and over produced. By contrast, back then it seemed to be more simple, raw and genuine.

No need to go this route right here. That's for another debate.

Some could argue, as I do, the music didn't die. The mere fact I listen to it in my jeep or car six decades later suggests Holly (and Valens and Bopper) lives on. It's no different than Beethoven and Louie Armstrong.

Man, it sure was good, wasn't it?





2009-02-03

Follow The Unpaved Yellow Dirt Road

I admit it.

I flat out confess.

Sometimes I do scratch my head and wonder how certain blogs become so big and how some "writers" become celebratorial - my word, deal with it. It's not like I'm gonna win a Pelitzer.

The intensity of each scratch increased substantially after seeing this video featuring Jimmy Kimmel interviewing an editor (Emily Gould) from a site called Gawker (the name says it all, doesn't?) Think Jimmy was mad? I think he has a point.

These people make money running big blogs. The least they can do is at least try and speak intelligently. That's the funny thing about bloggers who gossip, they don't articulate their defense all that well.

I looked up the editor's name, I came across a massive, poorly written 10 or 12 page essay by her in, get this, the New York Times! I read the first two and could do no more. I went to eat a banana instead.

What the heck is going on? It seems like both print and online media are unsure.

I see both sides and have to admit, I'm not terribly impressed by how blogs behave sometimes. A lot of it is, well, questionable no matter how you spin it. But hey, I'm sure something good will come out of it.

Still, blogging is a great way to accommodate the supply of great writing talent who would otherwise not be heard. A segment of society (call it a phenomena) decided to communicate outside the traditional outlets. Blogs are forcing a new avenue. View it like an unpaved road.

The question is: who gets to pave it?

2009-02-02

Canada's Stonhenge Oldest In The World?

Academic and scientist Gordon seems to think so.

Why does Alberta get all the fun? First oil, now a 5000 year-old open-air sun temple calendar that predates Stonehenge? I want equalization in some way. Why not? The sluts with our money are giving it away like free condoms in a tourist area.

Anything Is Possible

Operative word being possible.

I know anything is possible. I also know if I work hard enough I get closer to that possibility. Then comes luck and timing...and that's another issue.

Life is 20% hard work, 10% talent and 70% luck.*

Boy, I'm in a pseudo-philosophical mood to start February. Maybe it has something to do with the fact February is where my birthday resides.

*Figures are arbitrary.


Civil Discourse: Part 2

Let's continue the discussion shall we? This one touches on the notion of how society praises thieves, hoodlums and skanks.

The author of this comment found on link in previous post:

--"...Manners are the outward and visible sign of an inward and justifiable aspiration. We mimic those whom we admire in hopes of achieving their station. Only in that sense does the trickle-down theory actually work. There are only two explanations for the manners meltdown:


The well-mannered are not admirable.
The well-mannered are not really in charge.
In either case, they will fail to inspire polite behavior..."

"What's not to love? Contemporary pop culture is full of celebrities and celebutantes who have made it big on bad behavior...."

On average, the two points made above about the well-mannered I believe to be accurate.

Years ago, an internet marketer suggested a plan to break copyright laws in order to sell a product. To him, this was the only way to attract attention. Society LOVES people who break rules. He's absolutely right.

Last year, Hockey Night in Canada fell all over itself to talk to Snoop Dogg (a known felon.) No kidding, people probably did want to see him and the NHL is starved for attention it doesn't matter who it comes from. In 2004, naughty P. Diddy Puff Sean Combs campaigned telling people to vote. South Park saw through the shallowness depicting Diddy as a violent narcissist in "Douche and Turd." Of course, Diddy offsets his image (it's all about marketing and spinning the image just like a politician) by going on Oprah raises money for kids in a marathon and all is forgiven and forgotten. Aw.

Has anyone figured out how the Simpson sisters have carved out a career? Paris Hilton? You MUST be original we're told! My...you know what.

This sort of stuff falls into other areas like politics when we romanticize characters Castro and Che. By my estimation, these people are able to charm their way through their own crud.

Bah. I sometimes wonder about business people and leaders who join charities. I get the uncomfortable feeling that some are out to just pad their resumes. Unfair? Yeah. There are exceptions for sure. Cynical? Perhaps. More skeptical. Does altruism exist? Is unconditional possible?

And on and on the charade goes. To be sure they're not the only ones.

Politeness, honesty, quiet resolve, inner fortitude etc. - these are not virtues and traits marketable in pop culture. And it's odd that artists are so easily given to those that stand on the opposite side of this track. Vices sell.

Does this mean some criminals weren't necessarily bad or evil? No. But they did break the law. Should the law be compassionate sometimes? Absolutely. However, we seem to be all too ready to accept bad behavior carte blanche.

"...The few virtues he had, which would have ensured him no praise if he had been an honest man have been blazoned forth by popular renown during seven successive centuries, and will never be forgotten while the English tongue endures." Charles Mackay on Robin Hood in Popular delusions and the madness of crowds.

More from Mackay in chapter, "Popular admiration of great thieves:"

"...In fact, the theater, which can only expect to prosper, in a pecuniary sense, by pandering to the tastes of the people, continually recurs to the annals of thieves and banditti for its most favorite heroes."

The proverbial give people what they want and let 'em eat cake! While we're at it...

"Lord Byron, with his soliloquising, high-soul thieves, has, in a slight degree, perverted the taste of the juvenile rhymers of his country."

"Poets, too, without doing mischief, may sing of such heroes when they please wakening our sympathies for the sad fate of...(insert villain of your choice.)"

"If, by the music of their sweet rhymes, they can convince the world that such heroes are but mistaken philosophers, born a few ages too late, and have both a theoretical and practical love for the world may perhaps become wiser, and consent to to some better distribution of its good things, by means of which thieves may become reconciled to the age, and the age to them. The probability, however, seems to be that the charmers will charm in vain, charm they ever so wisely.

Amen.




Civil Discourse: Part 1

It was hard to keep this post consistent and on point. It could have easily careened itself into a blogging ditch to leave readers in a depressed funk.

Ok. Maybe not a funk.

I decided to make this a two-parter because it covers several aspects. Let's get right into it. The best way to tag this is a discussion on sense of appropriate behavior, loss of community and pop culture.

I came across a discussion posted way back in 2006 titled the 'Death of civility.'

Let me post some parts of it here (to know who wrote them just follow the link above):

--"...The sense of what is appropriate behavior – the sense that there is such a thing as appropriate behavior – is diminishing across our culture. Considering what other people will think has been replaced by a reflexive recitation of one’s rights to do as one pleases.

This idea that somehow rudeness or unkindness is intrinsic to an honest discussion is completely wrong..."

--"...My hope is that--especially online--people spend a little more time debating issues and a little less time falling into personal attacks, and especially when it's in the name of "frank truthfulness."

Daily life, from the perspective of those we interviewed, appears to be littered with unacceptable behavior, which has grown worse over time and shows no sign of abating on its own. The concept of a "tipping point"—that moment in an epidemic when it reaches a critical mass—probably is an apt description of what we've come to in terms of our incivility and disrespect for one another. We would probably all agree that it will take significant individual and collective resolve to challenge this epidemic of rudeness."

The rudeness of the proletariat is a failure of the arbiters of taste and the people they might influence: social and business leaders..."

--"Call it the Age of Rude - a cultural moment defined by rude and crude behavior and shaped by a blurring of the personal and public. We're living in it, and what's more, many of us - young and old - are enjoying every minute of it.

What's not to love? Contemporary pop culture is full of celebrities and celebutantes who have made it big on bad behavior....

Why not go right to the source: Paris Hilton, who has become the poster child for acting out. Hilton's very status as a celebrity is deeply rooted in the public's perverse fascination with her tacky, party-girl behavior..." Yes, each time I see her it boggles this fragile mind how she achieved fame based on nothing.

A scene in 'The Wild One' starring Marlon Brando and Mary Murphy somehow fits into this. It was the one where a couple of black rebels (the gang that invaded the town led by Brando) were jive talkin' and introducing an old man (the one who worked in the town cafe) into this new vernacular (sort of like what we witnessed with rappers in the 1980s and 1990s.) The old man had talked about how communications between people had diminished and that all people did was grunt and mumble to one another. The film was made in 1953.

It made me think about how we are today. We say (more like lament) about the very same things. John Mellencamp thought this idea of loss communities to be important enough for him to talk about it when he played here in Montreal. Yet, he's a child of the 1950s and 1960s. So felt things weren't so bad back then like the old man thought. I suppose both of them would agree on what they see today. Everything is relative.

The era before us always seems better. For me, I pictures the 50s as being a time when American "values" were at their highest form of expression. Where limited government, entrepreneurial and community spirit still believed in the individual to make a difference. Yet, when one ponders it, the 1950s were actually a period of great upheaval - or at least a calming before the storm. Recall that bebop jazz and rock'n roll took root in the hearts of American teens. Two forms of music hinged on freedom of expression and rebellion and laid the seeds for the counter revolution a decade later. It was as if baby boomers decided the life of their parents, though noble and stable, wasn't good enough. It was as if challenging authority for its own sake was enough - and for narcissists this was a perfect mix.

This discussion on social civility also reminds me of, what else?, The Simpsons. A show that often installs mob rules (like the one in 'The Wild One' when townsmen go after Brando) in its plots. The show has been a keen observer of social trends that grip contemporary society. One was when Bart was in touch with his "inner-self" which led Springfield to its first "Do what you feel" festival. Led by the philosophy "if it feels good, do it" espoused by a shyster named "Brad," the town goes nuts seeking immediate and hedonistic self-gratification.

Brad: People, I am excited. I can sense a change in the air tonight. You are all going to start living, really living.
Audience: Yay! [chanting] Living! Living!
Brad: Be like the boy!
Audience: Be like boy! Be like boy!
Brad: Just the ladies.
Ladies: Be like boy! Be like boy!
Brad: Now, the seniors in the back.
Seniors: We like Roy! We like Roy!

It makes a great commentary on how a) group think spreads like wildfire and b) seeking personal can easily cross over into disrespecting those around you. In other words, there are boundaries to social ethics whether we like it or not and we can't just do as we please.

Which leads into the comment about people who are blunt believe they're being honest. I don't believe bluntness is a method to be copied. It's tactless. There's a way to get your point across without hurting another person verbally. There's a way to disagree with someone without having to resort to nasty name-calling. But this takes moral and intellectual discipline. Whenever I see someone attack another on the internet it reveals more about the person than the message they're trying to convey - even if the message is right. People don't like to face condescending or rude people. End of story.

Of course, this ties into personal responsibility and accountability - of which there seems to be so little of these days.

We've passed off that obligation to government and the courts. Not that I'm leaving community leaders and parents off the hook, there'll always be such convenient outlets for weak minded individuals of low moral fiber.

Oh.

If you don't like this post...

Heh.