September 18th, 2012

War

Rendering Unto Caesar: Corruption of Consciousness‏

Forgive me if you have heard this from me before, but I suspect it can use some more attention. The topic of corrupting consciousness is as appropriate today as it ever was. It is one of those mistakes that is made generation after generation. It happens in ways that are both accidental and deliberate. For example, when fundamentalists speak of "sodomy" and chant the slogan "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," they deliberately corrupt consciousness to promote their own despotic agenda of defrauding people of their rights. An example of accidental corruption comes from the fact that the same word means different things in different times and places.

One of the techniques that fundamentalists employ to corrupt consciousness is to refrain from studying the milieu in which ancient literature was written and received. A small number of fundamentalists study classical literature so that they can do battle with religious liberals. They fail to apply what they learn from those studies in order to criticize fundamentalist tenets. For example, fundamentalists use the classical definition of "logos" in order to criticize the Scary Green Dragon, but they do not use it to address fundamentalist opposition to reason.

David Barton has recently made a name for himself in the campaign to corrupt the meaning of constitutional constructs by revising the history of the document. There is a movement to reshape America into a "Christian" nation where the word "Christian" means something very different in the mind of a fundamentalist than it does in the mind of an Episcopalian. The latter group are guilty of the sins of rational thought and failure to corrupt consciousness. They do not use the sacred buzz word "sodomite," for example.

Another word that varies in meaning over space and time is "democracy." Americans, for the most part, are very comfortable with a semantic that involves the populace voting for one of two candidates who represent the interests of either Wall Street or the Cayman Islands. Lenin once observed that the American political system is one where people have a choice of candidates for office, none of which will represent the interests of the voters. When Americans travel overseas to bring "democracy" to foreign lands with the barrel of a bazooka, they "liberate" the locals into the hegemony of either Wall Street or the Cayman Islands.

One militant bumper sticker puts it quite well: "Freedom isn't Free." It is actually subservience to plutocratic despotism. Who was it that said the power of governments to rule unjustly derives from the acquiescence of the people they rule?

Can you see any other corruptions of consciousness at work on the political landscape?

Links: David Barton's influence on the Republican platform. The bumper sticker in full glory.
Quaero togam pacem.

The scramble for Cyprus

Now this is a slightly different sort of scramble, though. Two ethnic communities sharing (or rather, dividing) the same island, racing for the better access to the newly found gas deposits in the sea. Sounds like a crappy reality show on TV? Nope, we're broadcasting live from Cyprus, the isle of Aphrodite.


(clicky for biggy)

The question whether the gas deposits that were discovered next to the island would stimulate a closer cooperation between the two Cypriot communities sounds rather naive, IMO. More likely the sweet natural resources will become yet another obstacle to the unification of Cyprus. The Cypriots have lived separated for almost 4 decades (since Turkish troops occupied the northern, Turk-populated part of the island). The so called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey (what a shock), unlike the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus in the southern part, populated by the Greek Cypriots.

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Mic

Romney unabridged

Talk about gaffes...

Who Are the 47 Percent? 7 Facts about the Americans Mitt Romney Attacked
Hidden-camera footage caught the GOP nominee blasting the nearly 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax. Turns out most actually are taxpayers, many are elderly and poor, some are rich—and a high proportion comes from red states.

Most genuine Romney up till now? A suicidal attempt to dig a hole for his campaign? A moment of rare sincerity? Or just a product of Romney "pretending to be something he's not"?

Oh, btw he has doubled down: No apologies, but the comment wasn't nicely formulated. Probably because it wasn't written on a teleprompter. Or something.

Did he basically tell nearly half the country to go fuck themselves? Or just invited them to go fuck him in November? He's supposed to be the president of all Americans, or am I missing something here?

I'd just posit that this is probably the first time we've seen the Real Romney in years. A grumpy white guy ranting about poor people demanding health care and food from the government. And the government helping them "too much". A grumpy white guy not understanding minorities. And one who only cares about himself. Yep, the same guy who bullied his classmates in school for stupid things like the length of their hair. The one who thought putting his dog on the roof of his car was fun. Again, this is who's going to be the next president of the greatest nation in the world, right? The guy who thinks $200,000 is "middle income"? And the one who has no idea what the hell his own stance on policies is, until he's told by his PR mentors and campaign managers what direction the wind's blowing at the moment? The same Romney who's entirely different from the one a few years ago, who in turn is not the same as the one before that? The one who's prepared to assume any shape it takes to get votes?

I really don't get it. In fact, WHY is he trying so hard to be president? He's got money, power, influence, he's famous now, and on the other hand he's evidently NOT interested in helping anyone but himself. So, why? "My job is not to worry about those people." REALLY?
Фофудья

Moscow forces U.S. to close down its aid mission in Russia

First, the news:


http://news.yahoo.com/moscow-forces-u-close-down-aid-mission-russia-000447314.html

Moscow forces U.S. to close down its aid mission in Russia
By Arshad Mohammed | Reuters – 6 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has forced the United States to close its aid mission in Moscow, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, in a blow to U.S. efforts to improve ties and a step that may aid the Kremlin's crackdown on pro-democracy groups.
Russia gave the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) until October 1 to cease operations after two decades and more than $2.6 billion spent to combat disease, protect the environment, strengthen civil society and modernize the economy.

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My reaction: I went to the Facebook of US Ambassador in Russia and left the following comment:


https://www.facebook.com/amb.mcfaul?ref=ts

Yuri Panchul: Mr.McFaul, I am not a fan of Putin, but I do believe this situation is a State Department's fault. The basic problem is: the State Department supported a lot of organizations in Russia that acted as a sort of a pseudo-pro-American religious sect, alienating the wast majority of people. If an outsider does not 100% match their various beliefs (from Infallibility of the decisions of the American Government to the Greatness of American iPhone), such "non-believer" is considered by many Russian 'pravozashitniki' to be a potential KGB agent or something filthy, not worthy of normal conversation. This attitude sucks and it has nothing to do with a real freedom of conscience. And this is State Department's fault. You let clueless, confused and self-righteous people to present the image of the United States political culture in Russia by putting your credibility behind them. If you concentrate purely on non-political cultural exchanges and provide maximum support for the American businesses doing business in Russia - you can achieve much more than socializing with pravozashitniki who are trying to fight the battle of 1970s in XXI Century. When you come back to Palo Alto, I can meet with you in the cafeteria of the Stanford Bookstore and explain how to win the Russian people.



Russia asked the U.S. to discontinue its $2.6B aid. Your reaction?

WTF?!? $2.6B of US taxpayers money were spent on a "more robust civil society in Russia"?!? Holy $#$%!!!
17(42.5%)
Too bad those barbarians do not value our lessons on democracy and protestant values
2(5.0%)
Let's send an aircraft carrier or two to teach Russians how to behave
1(2.5%)
This is solely Putin's decision! Regular Russian folks love to be preached to by the US Department of State!
1(2.5%)
Freedom to Pussy Riots!
19(47.5%)


UPD: I think I need to elaborate on the nature of some self-appointed Russian opposition - I did it in comments:


http://talk-politics.livejournal.com/1555075.html?thread=125220995#t125220995

Let's separate the issues.
One issue is that Putin is an old Soviet KGB agent. This sucks, I agree.
Another issue is that people who position themselves as Putin's opposition are sometimes simply lunatics. For example US-supported Kasparov was a supporter of a so-called "Fomenko's theory" - the theory that the traditional history is a conspiracy and that the Egyptian pyramids were built during Renaissance (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chronology_(Fomenko) )