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24 June 2007


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David Habakkuk writes:

But one cannot in the end combine identification with liberal or leftist principles in an American or British context with a commitment to what is
essentially an ideology of 'Blut und Boden' in the Middle East.

History proves otherwise. Senator Leiberman manages to do so every day, as does every other nominally liberal politician in the US. Endless, deafening yammering about existential threats and Muslim terror can create all sorts of wonderful historical anomalies. For every David Grossman there are 1,000 Avigdor Liebermans.

And in terms of pure political expediency the neocons' choice of political allies may very well turn out to be peculiarly shortsighted.

Interestingly, this has been the argument frequently made against the Left, in which remaining Marxists are ridiculed for making common cause with Islamists, who, the theory goes, will end up eating their current (intellectual) masters. I’ve never seen any indication of this and felt instead that it was a projection of the Neo-Theocons.

In any case, there are still millions of cluster bomblets littering Bekka, thousands of Palestinians wasting away in Israeli jails and even more Palestinians subjected to Geneva proscribed collective punishment. Seems ‘Blut und Boden’ wins every time.

Stanley Henning

Perhaps this is as approriate as any time to inject these musings.

It seems to me that the insane mosque bombing incidents reflect very badly on Islam - that the religion is essentially bankrupt, at least in Iraq, and deteriorating elsewhere. It seems too easily twisted by group politics. Of course the administration's trying to impose "Democracy" on Iraq and a displayed preference for Taiwan (they're sort of the Israel of the Orient and Democratic!) over China (does this emanate from the born-again/evangelist support base?) are also examples of the role of ideology versus reason in human affairs and the similarities and interplay between extreme politics and religious extremism. There is no easy way to describe all this chaos except for the fact that humans appear to have a self-destructive chip in their brains -- we are blessed with incredible technological advancement, but cursed with minds that still reside in caves regardless of our material affluence. It appears that the most beneficial act of God would be to endow humans with common sense and reason. Without his intervention it appears that the human race will surely destroy itself and everything else along with it.

Michael Murry

As good a re-introduction to the subject as any, Stanly Henning's musings on the all-too-easy "twisting [of religion] by group politics" leads us to what Thomas Frank wrote in What's the Matter with Kansas? (or, How Conservatives Won the Heart of America: namely, that religion -- especially Reformation Protestantism -- offers itself to political/economic exploitation (hardly any "twisting" required) so effortlessly that few demagogues (starting with Martin Luther and John Calvin) have ever managed to resist the temptation.

Paraphrasing Kay O’Conner, Franks writes: “[T]he people on top know what they have to do to stay there, and in a pinch they can easily overlook the sweaty piety of the new Republican masses, the social conservatives who raise their voices in praise of Jesus but cast their votes to exalt Caesar.”

and ...

“American conservatism depends for its continued dominance and even for its very existence on people never making certain mental connections that until recently were treated as obvious or self-evident everywhere on the planet.”

To make an obvious mental connection: nothing prevents people from making necessary mental connections like a religion that focuses on the Armageddon-Day ending of the world soon anyway -- so why bother trying to figure out the score here on earth today?

and ..

“As a social system, the [so-called “culture war”] backlash works. The two adversaries feed off each other in a kind of inverted symbiosis: one mocks the other, and the other heaps even more power on the one. This arrangement should be the envy of every ruling class in the world.... Why shouldn’t our culture just get worse and worse, if making it worse will only cause the people who worsen it to grow wealthier and wealthier?”

and ...

“Kansas is ready to lead us singing into the apocalypse. It invites us all to join in, to lay down our lives so that others can cash out at the top; to renounce forever our middle-American prosperity in pursuit of a crimson fantasy of middle-American [if not Middle Eastern] righteousness.”

In that grand and glorious crusading Christian vision of "the life to come" (as a distraction from the exploited life here and now) what can a few Islamic mosques -- leveled by American airplanes, desecrated by Israeli Prime Ministers, or blown up by disputatious Muslim sects themselves -- possibly matter? "Political capital" matters to America's ruling class, and nothing confers it more easily and cheaply than "war" and cynical pandering to religious prejudice and bigotry. As the French mathematician Blaise Pascal correctly pointed out: "No one ever does evil quite so cheerfully or completely as when he does it from religious conviction."

... As for the strange analogy between the "democracies" of Israel and Taiwan, I can only note that from the last two (historic) elections of native Taiwanese presidents here (as opposed to the Nationalist Chinese mainlanders imported and imposed by the U.S. in 1949), the native Palestinians must have triumphed in the last "free" and "fair" elections in Israel. And the next time President George W. Bush (that Calvinist freedom-monger) appears on international television alongside the President of Communist China jointly threatening the Taiwanese for even thinking of their own independence, well, few will have any trouble hearing the taiphoon winds -- generated by the native island people here (predominantly Taoist and/or Buddhist) collectively shaking their heads in disagreement -- from clear across the Pacific Ocean.


Mr. Henning opines:

It seems to me that the insane mosque bombing incidents reflect very badly on Islam - that the religion is essentially bankrupt, at least in Iraq, and deteriorating

Islam, of course, does not drop bombs. Men drop bombs. As they did when Dresden was fire-bombed, or when Tokyo or Nagasaki were reduced to cinders, all in the good name of Democracy or Christendom. In those cases, of course, men were the agents, yet when a mosque is attacked it is the fault of Islam; the charred corpses of Japanese or Lebanese schoolchildren apparently are not sufficient testimony to the moral bankruptcy of Christians and Jews.

Mr. Henning proceeds:

It seems too easily twisted by group politics.

A baffling statement at best, where the legitimacy of it (Islam) is questioned because of supposed susceptibility to group politics while other religio-ideologies are exempt. Sounds like special pleading to me.


I have posted it before, and I say it again. It is not impossible that one day events, circumstances and interests may conflate to the point where a populist leader who is anti-Israel on whatever grounds - millennial, moral revulsion, or sheer ruthlessness about the price of gas and endless ME wars - will come to power and abandon Israel, no matter what the machinations of big media and AIPAC.

One press conference apologizing to the Arab/Muslim world for all his or her predecessor's intransigent support of a country that the King James bible after all predicts, insists, will be destroyed, and a few megatons later, Europe and China would be as gobsmacked as I as the world turned upside down.

I haven't read Lehay's Left Behind series, but I wish I'd wrote 'em. They're very popular and no doubt profitable, and it's getting more expensive to drive away from you dear friends, for a few days of privileged living at the cottage. Where I commune with MY gods.

W. Patrick Lang


My mother's people arrived in New France in 1642, so does that make me genetically Canadian? Jean Chretien as much as said so to me once. In fact, he did say so.

You folks up there are a bit too smug for my taste. Porfirio Diaz said of his country. "Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca a los Estados Unidos." It would make a great speech in a film starring Antonio Banderas. Yes. I know he is Spanish. pl

JT Davis

"Char;les...It is not impossible that one day events, circumstances and interests may conflate to the point where a populist leader who is anti-Israel on whatever grounds - millennial, moral revulsion, or sheer ruthlessness about the price of gas and endless ME wars - will come to power and abandon Israel, no matter what the machinations of big media and AIPAC."

That would be a regressive populist and proto or quasi-fascist leader, like Ron Paul. Not impossible, just highly improbable. He has about as much chance of coming to power now as Dennis Kucinich, his polar opposite (progressive populist) except for non-interventionism, and the only two nay votes cast against(411-2) HR 21 asking the UN Security Council to charge Iranian President Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Genocide Convention. Strange bedfellows.


Col. Lang,
NEW Mexicans say the same thing, but it's Texas they're too close to. In fact a few years ago the skeletons of about 100 Texan Confederate soldiers were discovered there who had been buried after the Battle of Glorietta. When Texas asked for their "repatriation" the New Mexicans said, "Since they came here on our own without our permission they're gonna have to get BACK the same way--they'll get no help from us!" Those New Mexicans sure can bear a grudge.


Pat; Genes are a crap shoot, makes you a human being in my book. Its lines on the map and the structures that go with them makes you a resolute American and me a smug Canadian. Bit of makeup on Antonio's face, right pair of pants, he'll make a fine Mexican.

We have a helluva time pinpointing our national character, esp now with 3 decades of state-sponsored multiculturalism under our belts. Our default answer is that we're not like Americans, which isn't an identity, but a nothing. Us white anglos up here are starting to get implicitly nervous because most everybody else has a readily identifiable coherent tribe to belong to, to shelter in when other structures fray, but we dunno who we are.

Nothing like a war for survival of your state fought on your own territory to reduce one's smugness quotient I reckon. We ARE smug, and we get a huge free ride from America up here(at least til you all get really really thirsty down there and start taking our water, us powerless to resist). And I trust one day we'll have a comeuppance that may tune us up a bit.

I suspect its a bit of a defensive psychological posture for the mouse living beside the elephant. I know on my own account I'm just a self-righteous blatherer, likes the sound of his own typing.

We like the myth of the polite Canadian as opposed to the ugly American, and we're gonna ride that horse, remember the "Canadian Caper' that snuck 7 Americans outta Iran in 1979, as long as we can.

But the French Canadian girls ARE hot, but not as hot as the French Frenchwomen, bumped up against one of the latter and it was hotter than Hiroshima for a good long while. It did inject a little humbility into me whilst the ashes cooled, but I try to suppress it as best I can.

Anyway, point taken, didn't penetrate too deep, tho I felt a wee blush, as I respect your points. Keep on making them.


Pat, p.s. That whole NRA gun - we just think thats nuts & we do have a deference to authority thingy going on here.

frank durkee

Much of this is summed up under Lord Acton's quip: "Oiwer corrupts and absolute power [tends t] corrupts absolutely." Each of the Abrahamic Faiths claims absoluteness and thus has the potential to become corrupted and each historically has.

W. Patrick Lang


What is the semi-colon's purpose?

In re the question of French women as opposed to French Canadian women, do you think the is because of a recovery from domination by Jansenism which is still fairly recent?

On the subject of the "nothingness" of American (US) identity, I would recommend to you "The Nine Nations of North America," an oldy but goody. pl


Let's not forget that Canada was in both WWI and WWII for two years before the U.S. got its "priorities straight" by being hit over the head with a club.


And just let me make clear, re: "Our default answer is that we're not like Americans, which isn't an identity, but a nothing."

I mean Canadian negative identification of ourselves as NOT U.S. American, is a nothing of self-identification; it is empty of its own content.

Peter Principle

"No doubt when Lawrence Summers back in 1994 described 'a striking degree of unanimity' among economists on the wisdom of 'shock therapy' he thought . . . that this was because those endowed with superior rationality could only come to one conclusion."

If you've ever had any dealing with Larry Summers, then you know that what Larry REALLY thinks is that those endowed with superior rationality can only come to one conclusion: his.

In fact, for Larry this is something of a categorical imperative, since he clearly believes that the universe of those possessing superior rationality consists of only one person: him.

W. Patrick Lang


"American, is a nothing of self-identification; it is empty of its own content."

Ah, but what you have missed is that there are sub-species of American, and some of those divisions are NOT empty of meaning.

You are thinking of people from New Jersey.

I think of them the same way. pl


Peter Principle,
That's like that old skit on Saturday Night Live where Julian Bond is being interviewed by Garrett Morris. (Bond of course has lighter skin than Morris.) Bond insists that it's a "given" that light-skinned Blacks are more intelligent than darker ones.

Morris sputters, "WHAT? I don't understand that!"

Bond insists, "Of course not, Garrett--that's why it would be pointless to try to explain it to you."

The joke is that since Bond comes out on top with this belief then that MAKES it an irrefutable fact, despite a total absence of proof. When Morris tries to point this out, Bond simply dismisses his complaints as the irrational ravings of the weak-minded.


Arrrrggghhhh. What my foot, mouth, and I mean is that a Canadian who defines itself in the negative, as in "I'm not a (USA) American"; is a CANADIAN who's self identification as a CANADIAN is empty of content. Americans are full of content. Contentedly so.

We have better beer, I dimly recall.

The Quebecois are full of content too - but 49% pretend not be contented so they can really mess with our electoral and budgetary politics.

I know bugger all of New Jersey except what I'm fed on the Soprano's, and that it seems to be the butt of some regular abuse by its neighbours, some jocular, some apparently not. I must go there, but alas Homeland Security won't likely let me in.


Montag, ew were still basically a ready aye ready colony of GB when we entered the wars. there was a conscription crisis in Quebec that brought the government down i beleieve.

Got A Watch

The neo-cons continue to make friends all over:

"Africa united in rejecting US request for military HQ"
Simon Tisdall in Washington
Tuesday June 26, 2007

"The Pentagon's plan to create a US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves with the Bush administration's "war on terror" and fearful of American intervention.

A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show for consultations with defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU). An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local back-up for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive.

The Libyan and Algerian governments reportedly told Mr Henry that they would play no part in hosting Africom. Despite recently improved relations with the US, both said they would urge their neighbours not to do so, either. Even Morocco, considered Washington's closest north African ally, indicated it did not welcome a permanent military presence on its soil.

"We've got a big image problem down there," a state department official admitted. "Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US. They just don't trust the US." "

Those Africans - how can they be so ungrateful?


Got A Watch,
Once I was watching William F. Buckley's "The Firing Line," when he and his guests were considering the Warsaw Pact Alliance. Buckley said something to the effect, "It's hard to think of another historical example of an alliance whose main purpose was to invade its own members." As they sat there thinking to no purpose, I taunted them:

"The Delian League, you pinheads."

Obviously the African nations understand this principle--Somalia is a warning to them all.


Pat, did I miss the "post" button when I replied that the colon was just a hurried typo after having to reset everything in my pc after a hard drive reformat, Occam's razor and all that?

Where I said Nine Nations an oldy but goody it is for me then, and Neil Young came into my head singing from a song I can't name just now "He said its old but its good. . . like any other primitive would"?

Where I wrote that you sure must be older than your picture, but you're VERY good?

I guess so.

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