Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cultivated Indifference: Our Attitude Towards Rotting Structures

There’s something about our postmodern existence that divorces us from any sense of responsibility. Certainly, there are some things that were directly assigned to us that we are responsible for. I was careful to never damage or destroy my school texts as I might theoretically be held responsible for it — but when it comes to damaging a desk or bathroom with graffiti, or watching someone else engage in it, it was an entirely different story. While I never abused property myself I had always thought that, on some level, there is no responsibility I have in the least, no obligation, towards the destruction of property.

I have spent much of my life though, then and now, not only with a sort of ‘indifference’ towards the things around me, but also have cultivated the idea that I am not not responsible. In fact, I have grown up with a feeling not only of no responsibility, but of powerlessness. Certainly great teachers have told me this is not the case since I was a young man — but this is a lesson that takes some age and maturity to fully grasp, and perhaps this is why this is a lesson that we try to impart on youth with such urgency.

I feel, though, that the task of changing the rot within the society seems like a monolithic venture. Whether it is excessive corporate greed or the sorry state of the American government, or the degradation of the environment, or even the moral degradation of ourselves as people, we have a vague fatalistic approach and a series of excuses and justifications for our indifference & inability. We also exist as tired creatures that are so obsessed with doing the tasks we need to do to keep from being destitute. In some sense we are not that different from former peasants who could do little to nothing to improve the state of their society.

It can be depressing to be so isolated from nature, and to be tasked out and treated as just a functionary within a society with a wrong direction. We also never get the ‘leg up’ we need to become influential partly because the only people appointed to be influential are appointed by the operators of the status quo — they want this maintained, and unchanged, and so appoint like minded people.  They push us into a direction only beneficial to themselves, and we know it; we have no sense of ownership over our Society, and we have no sense of ownership over our own Fate much of the time.

All of this points us towards cultivated indifference.

We are responsible for nothing because we are just another member of the herd, with no power, and no influence; and when we act and function just as cogs in the machine we are told that this is how you get ahead. You bide your time, you wait; you don’t waste time on things not your responsibility because it is too hard. Your responsibility is just making money and waiting for the day of your influence.

When we pass the homeless man on the street, we understand this is not something we can help with. It is someone else’s job. So is the environemtnal destruction. So is the corruption in the government. So is the trash on television. None of this is us. None of this is our responsibility.

In fact, not even our personal immorality is our responsibility anymore; we feel that these brief indulgences are things that we need to cope with the daily grind.

So all around us, there are rotten structures. We may even be a rotten structure. But because of a combined our of powerlessness and lack of responsibility, we do not even move to change it. I think this can be properly called cultivated indifference.

Perhaps what we have to do to effect better change around us, and better change for our society, is to do something like the following:

– Care about things around us, so that we can cultiavate the will to take responsibility for improving things. Even if it is not our responsibility directly, we should take efforts to make it a part of our general responsibility as human beings. 

– Exercise daily to improve our health, both mentally and physically, and make us more alert.

– Learn important things daily.

– Fight the rot in our own life, and then fight it in our community, and then fight it in our society.

The first step is for us to be better people, and the end goal is to simply change the leadership above us that routinely fails.

And if I cannot take away the leadership above me that creates a more terrible place to live, then I will simply resist in by all means at my disposal, and distance myself, and take precautions to let everyone know that I was not a part of the structure which further degraded our society.

I think there has been enough wallowing in exitential helplessness and we should proceed towards a proactive fight against the rot — and if we cannot clear the structures of rot, we must destroy the structures themselves.

Afghanistan in Crisis As Obama Prepares Withdrawal

2014 has been an epic year for Pres. Obama:

– He attempted to destabilize the secular Syrian government & ended up supporting Islamist terrorists. The Russians & Iranians who backed Assad won out.

– His withdrawal from Iraq predictably culminated in mass civil warfare. Islamists recovered billions of dollars in currency & advanced military equipment making them incapable of being dislodged. Obama helped move to sack Maliki, who he had previously been fine with until this catastrophe (a little bit of late effort there, isn’t it?).

– Who can forget in the face of Russian aggressive posturing to take Crimea he sent John Kerry & his Hapsberg jaw to Ukraine; nothing was done to prevent Russian expansion, and instead money was given to a fledgling government of closet Fascists & corrupt strongmen in Kiev, who just this morning killed 10 civilians in artillery shelling of the Donetsk region. 

– Now Afghanistan is in a miserable position:

MAHMUD RAQI, Afghanistan —Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops, according to Afghan officials and local elders.

The Taliban have found success beyond their traditional strongholds in the rural south and are now dominating territory near crucial highways and cities that surround Kabul, the capital, in strategic provinces like Kapisa and Nangarhar.

Their advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it. The Afghan ministries have not released casualty statistics since an alarming rise in army and police deaths last year.

At a time when an election crisis is threatening the stability of the government, the Taliban’s increasingly aggressive campaign is threatening another crucial facet of the American withdrawal plan, full security by Afghan forces this year.

“They are running a series of tests right now at the military level, seeing how people respond,” one Western official said, describing a Taliban effort to gauge how quickly they could advance. “They are trying to figure out: Can they do it now, or will it have to wait” until after the American withdrawal, the official added, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the coalition has officially ceded security control.

Interviews with local officials and residents in several strategic areas around the country suggest that, given the success of their attacks, the Taliban are growing bolder just two months into the fighting season, at great cost to Afghan military and police forces.

New York Times

Basically, the Taliban is poised to plunge the entire nation into civil war and perhaps even come out victorious in the end. They are so confident of their ability to do this they are even attacking now before the US troops have withdrawn — signs that they feel powerful.

is anything going right at all in his foreign policy?

Perhaps people can try to tie this all back to Pres. Bush, but one cannot help but think that the overly ‘aggressive’ and ‘warmongering’ Pres. Bush would have at least not yapped like a tiny dog while Russia expanded into Crimea, or have witnessed the complete & total deterioration of conditions within Iraq & Afghanistan.

The real losers in this whole mess are the Iraqi & Afghan people who were treated to a glimmer of hope of democracy only to have it snuffed out by the awkwardness & inadequacy of the US government. The other major losers are the thousands of Americans and other allied fighters that have died or been maimed & wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan– now their sacrifices truly have been for little to nothing.

The only people that have won out during the Obama administration are the Russians, the Iranians and the various Islamic extremist organizations throughout the Middle East.

Russia “Created Conditions” (!?) Leading To MH-17 Tragedy

In the world of politics you often see that even when it is clear that they cannot completely burn their political opponents for an incident that they will seek to otherwise accuse them. On some level this is a human phenomena — we all seek to get to the bottom of it, and sometimes that means making a lot of sober and rational judgments and sometimes that just means pointing fingers out of frustration.

Senior intelligence officials said Tuesday Russia created the “conditions” that led to the downing  of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine but stopped short of directly linking Moscow to the fatal missile strike.

The officials said-that anti Ukraine government forces, which are backed by Russia, likely fired the missile that took down Flight MH-17 last Thursday, killing all 298 aboard.

However, they made no direct link to Russia.

The assessment follows a series of State Department comments and releases over the weekend that made a strong connection among the strike, Russia and the pro-Russian separatists, who are believed to have fired a SA-11 surface-to-air missile.

The officials said the plane was likely shot down by the separatists who are in eastern Ukraine, based on intercepted communications, satellite photos and social media postings, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the launch.

A senior intelligence official confirmed Tuesday that the separatists are being training in air defense systems at a Russian training facility in Rostov, near the Ukraine border.

In terms of who fired the missile, “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.”

The officials also said Russia has continued to help the rebels after the downing, providing additional tanks and rocket launchers.

The officials said the most plausible explanation for why the plane was shot down is that the rebels made a mistake. Separatists previously had shot down 12 Ukrainian military airplanes, the officials said.

Fox News

It seems pretty obvious that the Ukrainian separatists who shot down the aircraft were on some level educated and trained fighters, whether from Rostov or from previous military experience. Separatists had successfully shot down 12 other aircraft — they merely made an unfortunate mistake here.

The problem with the US officials saying that they created the conditions which lead to the downing of the US aircraft is that it could imply that, at other times, the United States has created similar conditions that led to the deaths of civilians as well. It creates a basis for argumentation that can bring us towards conclusions that are rather unflattering to the United States government.

… Of course, the government expects the people to be so generally blind in their fanaticism that they would have little regard to being objective and trying to understand the deeper ramifications of such an accusation.

But John Kerry & Barrack Obama haven’t stilled themselves and remained calm, and instead have pursued this in a predictably backwards & hypocritical fashion. I am not sure if we can necessarily blame Kerry & Obama, though, as this is the modus operandi of American politics: boldfaced stupidity & hypocrisy.

After all, it is what we tolerate as American people in our politics.

Hobby Lobby: Their Rights… & What About Universal Health Care?

The Hobby Lobby debate is a great illustration of a distracting issue that quickly devolves into a meme contest of mud slinging & false comparisons. The basic facts of the case are often ignored, and there is little to no discussion on what people actually believe government or business should do, or what obligations they actually have towards people. It seems to be more about what team you signed up for years ago, and what shirt you are wearing, than about the actual discussion of it.

That is why being ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ isn’t helpful in this debate. The only thing that is actually helpful is having a clear view of the role of government, the role of business, and the role of individuals within society. And when you even take a moment to understand all of these perspectives that you might have, and come to conclusions on them, you are then suddenly overwhelmed by the absurdity of the Hobby Lobby debate as it stands….

Let us be clear for a minute: Hobby Lobby is only fighting to not pay for 4 of 20 different contraceptive devices that they believe specifically to be involved in the process of abortion.

They even released a statement saying that the 4 items they do not provide through their health care plan are generally quite cheap and readily available, and any of their employees can certainly purchase these on their own dime if they do not intend to use any of the other 16 methods that range from the classic Jimmy Hat to vasectomies & female sterilization surgeries (The Blaze).

But some people are still not satisfied because of the four things they cannot buy — most notably, the morning after pill, for this is where they have decided to draw their line in the sand, believing that abortion is an immoral action, and they do not want to spend any of their money on it.

There is a really simple line of argument for the right of Hobby Lobby to not do this:

(1) People should be able to negotiate their terms of business. 

I simply believe that private enterprise has the right to come up with their own contracts.

If person A agrees to work for person B for 40/hours week for X-amount of money, and they put in the contract that person A also gets one bottle of Jack Daniels every Friday night, that is their business; if person A agrees only to work for person B if he is paid in Swedish Krona because he plans on returning to Sweden at the end of the summer and he wants his money in that, so be it; if person A wants to be paid exclusively in foodstuffs, that is also their business.

it seems remarkably silly that a person wouldn’t be able to negotiate the terms of a health care plan.

(2) People Should Be Able To Express Religion / Ideology, Even In Business.

Is it the best idea for a major chain store to advocate a religious or ideological standpoint? Probably not. But if the local Hallal butcher wants to talk about how great of a Muslim he is, or a Hallal grocer wants to insure the Hallal-ity of his groceries, why not?

Let’s say we even have a private Buddhist school, and it only has about 100 students… They only need about 10 teachers and a few other staff, and they want every employee to be a devout Buddhist because of the environment that they try to foster, and they give special priority to Buddhist monks or nuns to be teachers…
Can we be upset with them if they hire only Buddhists? Can we be upset with them if they hire only monks & nuns, and for these people they have zero plans for birth control?

Follow this logic t its natural conclusion.

(3) Personal Responsibility & Strength

I am responsible for everything that I do. if I were to ride my bicycle without a helmet consistently, who could I blame if I suffered a head injury? My employer who didn’t buy me a helmet even though he knew I was a cyclist?

If my employer doesn’t buy me a helmet… I guess if I want to cycle, I just have to use a portion of my own income to buy my own helmet. If my employer doesn’t want to give me abortion pills but still offers to buy me condoms, should I really complain if they do not buy me my abortion pill?

(4) If You Want Universal Health Care So Bad, How About You Universalize Health Care?

I want universal health care in the sense that I think everyone who doesn’t make a certain amount of money should have affordable and essentially free health care provided by the state.

I have no idea why we would just fight for businesses to provide some sort of… vast health care plan. Then we are denying health care to loads of unemployed people. Then we are denying health care to people who will just go to jobs that will cut their hours below X-amount so they do not qualify for certain health care costs…

I thought there was some goal for this generation of young Americans to universalize the health care system…

… Instead, they are taking the fight to make hobby lobby buy them abortion pills, as if this is the new frontier of a meaningful healthcare plan. 

Whatever happened to the campaign for universal health care? How did the Left suddenly see this Red Herring, and then go barking up this tree?

They are just being duped by super-liberal organizations capitalizing off of anti-religious  & anti-conservative sentiment.

This really should all be addressed in calm, quiet terms and be an issue about private enterprise and its rights to negotiate their own terms of service…

If this was really about health care, why would we focus on getting private businesses to buy abortion pills for people while the far greater injustice is the fact that many people are without viable health care plans?

I think the whole thing is a distraction from real issues & being discussed in entirely the wrong way.

Perhaps we should all go sit on some ice for a minute and re-think our priorities.

The Islamic State Offers Up A Map

Of course, the idea that Spain & the Balkans are going to become dominated portions of the Islamic state is incredibly silly, but there are a few things that we can see from the article below & the map that they offered up:

ISIS has formally declared the establishment of a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast stretches of the Middle East that have fallen under its control, and has outlined a vision to expand into Europe.

The announcement was described as the ‘most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11’.

Upon declaring a caliphate, the Sunni militants – whose brutality in attempting to establish control in Iraq and Syria has been branded too extreme even by Al Qaeda – demanded allegiance from Muslims around the world.

With brutal efficiency, ISIS has carved out a large chunk of territory that has effectively erased the border between Iraq and Syria and laid the foundations of its proto-state.

Daily Mail

And here is the map:

Notice how they do not apparently seek to take any lands beyond what was once theoretically held within Europe.

Notice, as well, that Kordistan would take up a massive swathe of land — a good chunk of Turkey and a large chunk of Iran.

I imagine that ‘Qoqzaz’ is theoretically existent there as a ruling area for the Azeri / Turkic peoples that are otherwise not in Anatolia.

Khorasan is intimidatingly large, taking up much of central Asia, parts of Iran, Pakistan, India, and… The Uighur lands. We can conclude from that that they are consciously in opposition to the Chinese government who has taken away domestic control from the Uighur people. I imagine that indicates that even if the Islamic State fails, there could be money, support and increased interest in the Uighur struggle which may be a new frontier of jihad.

Notice the entire lack of Iran — not surprising that they would abolish an entire Shi’ite theocracy, after all. 🙂

The map is significant as far as it gives us an interesting worldview of the Jihadis — one in which it seems to respect the traditional territories held by these various peoples to some extent, and appears to care about correcting theoretical past wrongs.

Perhaps you can see that while the goal is most assuredly not something that can be achieved, the dream is certainly there, and they have shown some interesting sympathies and inclinations that will be indicators of their future behavior.

The IS just has to buckle down and resist whatever onslaughts are coming towards them and hope that Obama & NATO foreign policy stays impotent, and this is going to be a wild summer for us all.