“Sophisticated”

I get a good bit of e-mail that links to other blogs and essays on all kinds of political points of view.  Since most of them are full of the usual nonsense (innuendos, lies and just plain hatefulness), I dismiss them.  But occasionally I get a read that is thought provoking.  That they are thought provoking does not keep them from the possibility of also hosting innuendos, lies and hatefulness.  After all if it did, it wouldn’t be politics, would it?

From time to time, I post the hyperlinks in “news items” in my journal.  But just because I post them does not imply that I swallow everything in them hook, line and sinker: I usually save the sinkers to be melted down into bullets at a later time.

Recently I received such an essay entitled: “THE DESTROYERS WHO CONTROL CONGRESS, THE WHITE HOUSE & MEDIA”.  You can read it yourself if you wish:

http://newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd471.htm

I do agree with some of things she said.  An example would be that she said Oliver North is a disgrace to his uniform.  For me, it goes beyond his involvement with drafting the plans for martial law (FEMA): it is simply that while employed to steal from the American people to fund an illegal act, he stole from that slush fund to refurbish his own personal property.  So, he is a selfish thieving criminal, which is no credit to his morality.  With such credentials as that, he has risen to become one of the principle spokespersons for the “Religious Right” (which is neither religious nor right).

Still on another matter in Ms. Kidd’s essay, there were many positive ideals expressed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but unfortunately, our governments have messed it up by allowing corruption to destroy the hopes of small businesses in Canada; industrial workers in The United States, and even farmers in Mexico.  That much I believe is true.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Free_Trade_Agreement

Was NAFTA an intelligent decision benefiting everyone involved?  Was it a stupid decision hurting everyone involved?  Or was it just a bandit decision hurting most everyone involved to the intended benefit of the bandits? If the later is true, then voters who work for a living (faced primarily with a choice between republicans and democrats) are going to be stuck with the results of decisions made by bandits.  Since the value of work done in Mexico, Canada AND The United States continues to diminish, that kind of makes our decisions in the voting booth to turn out kind of hapless.

Before I continue with Devvy Kidd’s article, I’d like to point out that so far, I don’t see the new “Tea Party” as being divorced from bandits, either.  They too will need the money; want the money, and they will take the money.

http://www.laprogressive.com/political-issues/lobbyist-money-right-wing-extremists-tea-party/

http://firedoglake.com/2009/04/13/corporate-lobyists-raising-money-for-tea-parties/

It is particularly amusing to me as we watch Ms. Sarah Palin jump in front of that parade calling:  “Me!  Me!  Follow me!”

To that statement, I offer as precedent the support of the “Bridge to Nowhere-Thanks, But No Thanks” speech Sarah Palin delivered to The Republican Convention.  It was rhetorically successful in arousing emotions.  It just wasn’t true.  The facts suggest she lobbied (before and after becoming governor) for a lot of federal grant money to improve the infrastructure in Alaska including a few bridges to nowhere by most urban standards.

While Alaska did receive the money, I have not been able to find out where a single penny of it was ever returned to Washington.  It is true that they did not build the controversial bridge, but not so much out of any righteous indignation: it was more due to the fact that it had become the laughing stock of major newspapers all over the country.  So, the project was canceled.  My question is: where did the money go?

Videos for sarah palin lobbies for bridge

Devvy Kidd calls herself an independent, but the foreboding question I ask of all independents is: what is the point of allegiance that you take?  Who is your group?  Do you stand alone against the tide of injustice?  If you get your way, what big powerful entity is going to benefit the most?  Will it be nurses, mechanics, farmers, school teachers, and carpenters?  I have my doubts.  History says politics plays “king-on-the-mountain” where one big brute is knocked down and replaced by another big brute.  So, by making me fearful of others, how is it then that Devvy intends to “lead me to safety”?

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” — H. L. Mencken

Since Devvy insists we do our own research (and do it along the pathway she provides–thus giving assumed consent to her validity), it appears that I have a lot of reading to do to verify the legitimacy of quite a few hobgoblins.  Even so, I already have a huge list of books that I may not live long enough to finish.  There are books all over the house with book markers in them that are evidence to my ability to become distracted.

The quote from Patrick Henry towards the end of her post is to be admired, and I have great respect for the man and what he said:

“It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts…For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

It is brilliant, but it is not timeless.  We must frame it in the mindset of the American Revolution, and the attitude that the king of England was guilty of war crimes.  A fairly good high school lesson plan to follow would be:

http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=723

In some ways, it isn’t likely to get very far in America today, because we’ve turned a deaf ear to war crimes and terrorism unless somebody else is doing it.  Besides, a good bit of the modern day American public seems to have a much greater need to be entertained than to be educated.

http://www.earlymodernweb.org.uk/emn/index.php/archives/2004/10/entertainment-vs-education-again/

When you take a look at some of the emotional reactionary nonsense that seems to drive so many circulating (and non-factual) e-mails from people who do not read books or engage in serious conversations, you suspect we might be right where the German people were in the 1930s when they thought their only hope was to make Adolf Hitler the Chancellor of Germany.  It was a bandit decision on the part of the NAZI leadership; a hapless decision for their underlings, but it proved to be a stupid decision for the entire world.

I am not yet sure what movement, if any, will call me to the noble level of Patrick Henry.  The reason is simply this:

Sometimes I am not certain of the differences between my own indulgences in the illusions of hope and what is the painful truth.  Perhaps it is because I am unwilling to give up hope entirely in spite of painful truths.  If all of Ms. Kidd’s research is factual (and a good bit of it may well be), then hope of us ever clamoring out of this mud hole is in trouble.

As I read “newswithviews” the second time trying to define her ax, something struck me: although fascism and communism often lead to totalitarianism, they are not the same thing, and are usually not partners at all, but diabolically opposed enemies.  She grinds her ax, but I’m still not sure which tree she intends to chop down.  It seems likely that she has some clear-cutting in mind.

A few times, she lets her ideological slip show.  That is normal in politics (and she is definitely in politics).  In that arena, the rhetorical practice is to use judgmental descriptive adjectives (instead of more non-judgmental observations), which she does specifically on the abortion issue.

Personally, it is not so much a question of which side she (or anyone else) takes, as much as it is the debate seems devoid of dialogue that could be more constructive without so much emotionally driven rhetoric, dogma, and demagoguery.  But on that matter, I offer little hope of the subject ever rising above the quagmire of egocentric postures that always oppose an altruistic and truly compassionate: thus an intelligent decision.

While she seems obviously intelligent, she also seems a bit sophisticated.  I don’t know her, so I cannot be the judge of that.  By “sophisticated”, I do not mean it as a compliment any more than I use the term “sophomore” as a compliment: both imply some attachment to the emotional views of the sophists.

In conversation, we often hear the word used to mean refined and elegant, but we also hear sophisticated used as a back-handed remark to imply stuffiness or conceit.  For good or bad, both are judgmental, and neither represents my meaning here.  My usage here compares more with a certain group of ancient Greek philosophers (sophists) whose practice was to present convincing and plausible arguments by use of deception and nonfactual information.  They were particularly good with using what we call “half-truths” to make a point.  For example, read Ms. Kidd’s own words:

“One world government means one world religion and that’s where the Rick Warren’s of the world come into play. Warren’s mission is “modern religion.” His crusade is to build a “unified theology” which pushes “civility”. I’ve watched him and he’s very slick. There is a huge effort world wide to “blend” the world’s religions, ending up with some wacky version the “New Age” baloney. The number one goal, of course, is to destroy Christianity in this country. It is essential in fostering communism because communism can only flourish in a Godless nation. Global domination under a brutal, communist, totalitarian force is the ultimate goal.”

Rick Warren may be “very slick” as she said, but I doubt he is much of an instrument to destroy religion in this country: he’s making too much money off of it!  I also don’t really see him as a front-line soldier in the cause of communist world domination.  I think Ms. Kidd kind of ran off the road and into the ditch on that one.  But I do think Rick and Ms. Kidd have a common bond: they both remind me of the sophists.

About 2,300 years ago, Aristotle went way beyond them.  He was particularly good with defining rhetoric as an art form, as well as a critical part of dialogue, poetry and drama.  He believed that rhetoric when used with factual information, intelligent people could make intelligent decisions.  Today rhetoric remains one of our seven liberal arts that college students are supposed to have a handle on before they graduate (that the majority actually do in any large numbers is a myth, as is the idea that our politicians work for the common good in the Paulian Christian concept of “…rightly dividing the word of truth” -from 2nd Timothy, 2:15).

Further, Aristotle pointed out that as an art form; rhetoric cannot be reduced to a mere science.  Yet so much of the practicum of political science intends to accomplish that very thing, meeting only with success among our incredibly “sophisticated” (but not very well educated) public.

There seems to be a great popularity with “sophistication”: besides the talking heads, there are many newspapers, magazines and hundreds of blogs devoted to caressing personal points of view while attacking the views of others.  One thing generally missing from the recipe of the soup is an ingredient “claimed” to be vital in every court in every jurisdiction of the land:   “…the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”.  Once folks are emotionally worked up enough–desiring some things and fearing others (not that all of their desires and fears are rational), they vote!  Maybe that is what H. L. Mencken meant by saying:

“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.”

Perhaps what would help (at least for me with my peanut-sized brain) would be to consider one issue at a time.  I have trouble focusing on the “big picture” Devvy Kidd wants me to see.  It could be that she is much smarter than me, and that I just don’t get it.  Perhaps it is her style, or something else that distracts me; perhaps it is my overwhelming cynicism.  Maybe it is that I am desperately hoping not to see everything the way she sees it.

Maybe it isn’t that at all.  Maybe she is wrong: maybe Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama are NOT on the same diabolical team.  The idea that they are both players working together towards the same “new world order” (or damned near anything else for that matter) does not yet fit well in my mind.   But I do realize that just because I don’t see it doesn’t mean it does not exist.

Are Limbaugh and Obama both members of an absurd mother culture that embraces ideologies that can be harmful to the balance of nature on this planet?  Well, they probably are.  Are they both on the inside of the elitist club that bends to the bidding of the one world bank?  If so, they are discordant, inharmonious and are counterproductive rhetorically.  I have no doubt that power supports power, but the Obama/Limbaugh connection doesn’t drive my wagon.

A confession is in order here: I am not particularly good at critiquing the academic findings of others, as I have never been very academic myself.  Though I am often critical, I am not a trained critic.  I am suspicious of dogma and also suspicious of iconoclastic attacks on dogma largely because I don’t know enough to be certain of what the whole truth is to begin with.

It is from such a position of intellectual weakness that I stand looking out at a world full of belief disorders that I have not yet been able to clearly (or at least clinically) define.  So to be sure, I will read Devvy again, and look into some of the areas that seem to concern her.  But there is a lot to chew on, and I have a lot of chewing to do before I swallow.  It is a long-term practice and habit of mine: maybe that’s why I’m not fat.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by little d on July 3, 2010 at 2:10 am

    ” The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth “,

    I look VanTwain into the possibilities of a truth, and
    wonder at who’s expense it originates, and who’s
    expense it is to be extinguished . A truth could be defined as needing no explanation, no verdict, or no orator, as it is self evident both to those (in good standing) in an academic world or those
    (barely standing) in an breadline .

    For example, to today’s commoner, the Earth is usually
    described as round in shape, but once upon a time it
    was definitely flat. What happened ? Was the Earth, once
    unquestionably flat, molded into a sphere by a mystical
    force without being detected, or was the Earth ever flat at all?

    Today, the commoner would laugh at the suggestion that
    the Earth was ever flat, but at the same time it is a deadly
    serous assertion to suggest the Earth ( not excluding the
    Universe ) wasn’t made by a mystical force in 168 hours.

    Once, in my opinion, the greatest worth was found in truth.
    Truth at one time, cost everyone the same price too. But still,
    what, if any destination, is bound for truth ? Will it ever again
    (in good standing) stand for itself, or perhaps a better
    question is, does truth really have any legs of its own anyway ?

    What about the guy who cries Wolf ? Does he work for those
    who know that the truth will set us free ? Its telling I tell you
    a tale to tell you.

    Today’s political world is a sophisticated continuation of the
    earlier Monarchies that could no longer rule its Subjects
    productively by force, upon their legs does truth stand,
    not because it can stand for itself, or because it is a truth
    to begin with, just because everyone else with legs is supine.

    Please remain seated until all lights are turned on. Thanks Van

    Reply

  2. Posted by BB on July 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I’m glad that there are people like Van who continue to think and question. Too often, folks blindly accept what they come to believe is “the truth” and never move beyond that. The wise man/woman learns from experience, continues to question, and is open to change his/her mind throughout their life. Bravo to Van for being that kind of person, and challenging the rest of us to do so also.

    Reply

  3. Posted by TT on July 5, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    (from e-mail) Very informative and disturbing at the same time…

    Reply

  4. Posted by Butch on July 6, 2010 at 8:43 am

    (from e-mail) There’s no end to the plotting to corrupt & prostitute the visions of our Founders. Thanks for an interesting, insightful, fact-filled, thought-provoking read.

    Reply

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