Comments: The Lesson of the Drones

Look at it this way - if an experienced diplomat and leftist like Father d'Escoto believed, and still believes, that Obama is sincerely on the side of the people, and only does what the MICFiC wants because if he didn't, they would kill him - then surely we can forgive the naivete of all those loyal progressive Democrats (not to mention any names in particular cough*Digby*cough)?

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at March 2, 2011 12:20 PM
The general version goes like this: Barack Obama is sincerely dedicated to progressive social change and earnestly wants to fulfill our every wish for a better society, but he's been thwarted by the powerful forces of a permanent government/corporate nexus that's beyond his control, and he's powerless to govern outside of their parameters (in some advanced versions of this fantasy he risks unspecified but presumably dire consequences unless he toes the line—"it would be dangerous", as d'Escoto says).

The fact that this formulation is not appropriate in Obama's case does not refute its essential validity, as would quickly be demonstrated if you were somehow able to instantaneously transport [insert your champion's name here] into the presidency.

There was obviously no need for such heavy-handed intervention in Obama's case, since he got into office more-or-less the old-fashioned way, which essentially ensured he would already be sufficiently pliable upon arrival.

Posted by SunMesa at March 2, 2011 12:31 PM

John, do you really think ATR's readership is loaded with Obama apologists? I don't. My own feelings have shifted relentlessly negative on BHO over the course of his Presidency, for exactly the reasons you mention, and my sense of this site is that it has done the same.

For me, the key issue here isn't Obama's sorry record; that's "dog bites man" all the way. It's about people needing other people to believe in, the paucity of the options they're given, and the terrible job progressives do with messaging. "Belief" in Obama is great news for progressives--because the values his "worshippers" assign to him are mainly progressive ones. I think that there is an actual difference in the values that drive affection for Obama than the ones that drove affection for George Bush or Ronald Reagan or even Bill Clinton, and that makes me genuinely hopeful. That's been my lived experience; yours may differ. Venting's good, we all vent (and doubtless people will "vent" all over this comment), but I for one tire of the "SEE? Told you you shouldn't've had any 'hope' for 'change', ASSHOLE!" So it's right; it's also so sour and smug that it actually marginalizes the speaker even further.

As to the source of the malignity, I personally skew towards the MICFiC theory because I think it does a better job of explaining the consistency of low morality. While it's less terrifying and more cathartic (and makes for a better posting) to point at the individual as the problem, all those reasons, too, make me dubious.

The question I'm interested in is, how do progressives activate those pro-Obama voters to support truly progressive candidates? My sense is that slagging Obama isn't it. You give somebody a laundry list of things you don't like, and their heads fill with ideations of the negative. Whatever Obama's faults as a president and as a person, his campaign was a textbook example of positive messaging. That works, and it's what progressives need to learn how to do.

Posted by Mike of Angle at March 2, 2011 12:45 PM

YOU CAN FOOL some of the people ALL of the time. Ain't gonna change that anytime soon.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 2, 2011 01:34 PM

Mike of Angle: AGREED. Obama has MUCH to teach us about WINNING, and very little to teach about PROGRESS.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 2, 2011 01:37 PM

@Caruso: Dead on. Once you're committed to placing the earth at the center of the universe, you need to engineer a nightmarish Rube-Goldberg machinery of epicycles to resolve the inconsistencies. It's absurd but it's fun. The Ptolemaic view of the liberal order with Obama at its moral center is equally absurd. Fun? Not so sure.

@MoA: What's with "positive messaging" and "ideations of the negative." That gobbledygook sounds all very epicyclic to me.

Posted by isthatso at March 2, 2011 04:54 PM

mistah charlie, ph. d.: True that digby shills for Obama and the Administration in general. Personally I believe she's paid, at least one would hope so, proveing it CAN make money. I also have come to the belief that lubyanka could be mr. digby.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 2, 2011 05:14 PM


"The lesson of the drones is that Obama isn't a victim of powerful forces, but a willing ally."

Well, in truth he's sometimes one, sometimes the other, and often both, and I guess a lot of the time he's also neither. I suppose that's too messy though. Still, this sort of 'analysis' reminds me of Sunday school. A person making actual decisions of almost any kind can't think anything like that.

Since simple narratives, or narratives for simpletons, are the stuff politics is made of, probably I'd say 'willing ally' would be the most useful political moral judgment, in a long term sense, but the long term is pretty damn long, and in the short term that sort of thinking will make things worse, because the only other viable option actually is worse. Not as maddeningly hypocritical perhaps, but viciously, concretely, immediately worse. Such was the genius of Madison that has blessed us with this change-resistant political stability we have that looks and smells like corruption and gives us such abundant 'lesserevilism', to use another indignant phrase.

Posted by N E at March 2, 2011 05:35 PM

the only other viable option actually is worse

NE apparently thinks killing X number of people in 8 years is worse than killing more than that number in one year.

I used to hold to the comforting view that there was a difference, albeit small, between Republican and Demotic governance, but I've lost patience without that evidenceless notion. Democrats really are as bad as Republicans as far as what they do in government goes, which is the only measure that counts. The difference is the rhetoric each uses when doing the same thing, which is to say each party has a different group of useful idiots to placate.

Posted by weaver at March 2, 2011 06:54 PM

"Demotic"?!? Heh, chance would be a fine thing.

Posted by weaver at March 2, 2011 06:58 PM

"NE apparently thinks killing X number of people in 8 years is worse than killing more than that number in one year."

Bush is surely in the lead overall when it comes to killing innocent people. That's not just done with drones. Obama's no slouch, of course.

I think Mike of Angle has a point, but don't know how it would work in practice. Obama's campaign seems mostly like a negative example, since it was about how to energize people to work for an illusory candidate who only existed in their minds. It didn't translate into a mass movement for single-payer or the end of our Mideast wars or our support for Israeli apartheid or war crimes trials for Americans or climate change policy that was serious.

Though it's not like I have any positive ideas about how to do any of that.

Posted by Donald Johnson at March 2, 2011 07:36 PM

Take the Obama style of campaigning, FOLLOW IT TO THE LETTER, only ACTUALLY DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 2, 2011 09:32 PM

Third Party, Folks.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 2, 2011 09:38 PM

An outstanding post but as you can see it is like pissing into the wind. And I'm tired of people who are tired of people who are tired of watching Obama murder. But if some wish to defend murder let them, it's none of my concern. In the end there is nothing more rabid than the Obama apologist of which there seems to be no shortage of here and elsewhere.

Posted by Rob Psyne at March 2, 2011 10:31 PM

Weaver

I'm just grumpy today, and I'm not in the mood to defend Obama or attack him either, and whether Democrats are better or worse than Republicans isn't interesting me much now. I think the way everything works right now, one major party is a right hand and the other is a left hand, and they are each attached to a body--let's call it the body politic--and that right hand may throw a mighty hook that will knock our (the people's) head off, and the left may hit us with a bunch of quick jabs that will leave us in an idiotic stupor, but in every real way both hands certainly are working together, as allies and even as enemies, against the interests of the people. I believe that much. The thing is, there are some wrinkles.

I don't want to make people think Presidents are unimportant. On occasion a President will find himself in a position where he doesn't want to do something so terrible that it jars him out of ordinary political thinking--that has happened more than people around here think, and men with some inner reserve of courage like JFK and Woodrow Wilson and FDR and Lincoln have balked at excessive ruthlessness and paid a very high and sometimes total price, and even other, lesser men like Warren Harding and schmucks like LBJ and simpletons like Truman and Reagan and malignant evildoers like Nixon have recoiled from the insanity or evil pressed upon them and been killed or nearly killed or otherwise ruined by enemies who couldn't tolerate their weakness or perceived betrayal. That's a real part of our hidden history, which I studied for a couple of years far too obsessively.

But most of the time that ultra high stakes power game is not going on at quite that level, and being President is just a more ordinary game political game of ambition and power, and in that slightly lower stakes game all those men who were either exceptionally courageous at times when backed into a corner or otherwise pushed too far--each and every one of them killed innocent people and could do terrible things, plenty of terrible things, things that no doubt should have appalled them sooner than they became appalled and that would appall men not accustomed to the murder known as statecraft among powerful nations. That's why I can greatly admire JFK and still understand Malcolm X and not hate Malcolm for that speech about the chickens coming home to roost. Malcolm X was right; the chickens did come home to roost for JFK, who sougth out power and was killed by it.

Now I have no doubt that there is some point that Obama couldn't be pushed past, and that point I'd bet is nearer mine than the point of some cryptofascist like W or Cheney or McCain or plenty of others. But obviously Obama can live with a lot of blood on his hands and seems pretty comfortable with that, and that's bad, and I'm skeptical that it's necessary, so I don't admire him. I'm disappointed in him and the opportunistic political compromises he is willing to make. I expected a lot of it, but it's still disappointing. But I think anyone who thinks he is worse than Dick Cheney has lost it. I think that's wrong to the point of being stupid and is based on blind contempt for the whole crappy system. That blind contempt I can certainly understand, because the system sucks. The thing is, being stupid won't fix it just because the sentiments are noble and well-meaning and inspired. People who quit thinking because of rage just get manipulated and are used to manipulate others. That's the game that's played 24-7 now in our age of constant news and manufactured mass option, and political cycles are manipulated with as much or more cunning than economic cycles. The GOP gets its bailouts too, just as the banks do, but their bailouts are political. The hope cycle builds up the Dems, and the disillusionment cycle tears them down.

Those are my endlessly repetitive thoughts on this mess, which sucks. Fortunately Jon has a fine eye for spotting and calling bullshit, and almost nobody around here really agrees with me, which I'm hoping will save me. But probably not, probably I'll just drift further and further into iconoclastic, eggheaded quasi-lunacy until people wonder about that crazy old geezer who shakes his head cynically while drooling on himself. Or I'm killed by aliens working for an alliance of Russian criminals and Martians. So it goes, but I will at least try to remember Eliot and not mock myself with deception.

And by the way, more than all the shot and shot-at or poisoned dead Presidents, I admire Debs and Mother Jones, not because they were socialists, which doesn't mean that much to me except in the aspiration of meaningful equality and community, but because those two were tough and did what they thought was right without much fearfulness about consequences. That's what I really admire. In general, people who choose to be that sort of person don't become powerful, and they are a lot more likely to end up dead long before they even have much real influence, let alone power or money, because a powerless person who acts consistently on principle will regularly run into no end of trouble in this hard, cold world. Selfish, mostly fearful, overly cynical pricks like me do much better until we get fed up and start acting on principle just because we're awnry and pissed off about some of the wrongs we've seen.

Not that there aren't some rewards to that too.

Peace.

Posted by N E at March 2, 2011 10:51 PM

Could you expand on that? Perhaps go into a bit more background and detail?

Posted by Rob Payne at March 3, 2011 12:12 AM

@MoA: What's with "positive messaging" and "ideations of the negative." That gobbledygook sounds all very epicyclic to me.

...looking up "epicyclic"...Are you teasing me, @isthatso, you rascal? I didn't mean to be opaque, I've just been reading a ton of NLP stuff and it's full of such lingo. In my defense I have had a little experience communicating with mass audiences.

What I meant by "positive messaging" is, obviously, communicating ideas and concepts that are positive, not negative. "Hope" and "change" are positive messages. "Vote for me so that my opponent doesn't do x horrible thing" is a negative message, and IMHO it's not a good motivator for our side. On the right (and I consider the Dems to be on the right, too), negative messages work great, because fear is a huge part of the authoritarian worldview.

For someone whose worldview is healthier--who is less psychologically sick--constant negative messaging causes despair and "fuck all y'all"--which is another reason why it works great to keep our current status quo. It results in angry, frustrated reactions like John's post which, as persuasive and well-written as his stuff always is, didn't really make me wanna get up and change things. It made me want to move to Mars.

"Ideations of the negative" is simply this: when somebody writes a post full of stuff like "I'm sick of living under smiling cryptofascist pseudo-multiculti corporate apologist shills like Barack Obama" it is my belief that that reinforces the idea of politicians as smiling cryptofascist pseudo-multiculti corporate apologist shills." Which then makes it EVEN MORE difficult to imagine a positive alternative, much less hold that positive alternative in your mind long enough and fixedly enough to withstand the constant rain of crap you will get trying to make that positive alternative a reality.

My last word on the subject is simply that posts like John C's remind me that, as verbal and well-read as we ATR readers are, this site, too, has its version of "red meat," and pullquote-studded "this person's a disappointing, hypocritical murderer of innocents" posts are it. Is it wrong to post them? No. Incorrect? No. But eight years or whatever in, it's a pretty played-out point, and I tell Jon as much when he does it. At best it's incredibly bleak and frustrating, at worst it actually sows apathy and nihilism, and I don't think that's helping anybody. But that's me. Maybe I'm being "epicyclic." Anyway, I've said all I need to say!

Posted by Mike of Angle at March 3, 2011 12:19 AM

Once upon a time there was a magic kingdom where long ago there was a good congress and a good president so if only we can return to that magical time, perhaps via a flying carpet sprinkled with fairy dust, then we will once again be the wonderful nation that we really are.

Posted by Rob Payne at March 3, 2011 12:38 AM

NE, my head is spinning. You said so much stuff but I'm still trying to figure out what you said, because for the life of me it seemed as if you were just saying the usual bit about how the president is powerless and the train is set in its tracks, etc. But you sure said a bunch of stuff.

I'm reminded of that scene in 'Blazing Saddles' where Harvey Korman tells Slim Pickens about how his thoughts are whirling n' transcendent n' junk, and..

Hedley Lamarr: My mind is aglow with whirling, transcient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.

Taggart: Ditto!


Posted by biscuit eater at March 3, 2011 01:36 AM

IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING, YOU MIGHT NOT GET THERE*

In the words of Mike of Angle [slightly edited for clarity],"Constant negative messaging causes despair and 'fuck all y'all'...when somebody writes a post full of stuff like 'I'm sick of living under smiling cryptofascist pseudo-multiculti corporate apologist shills like Barack Obama', I believe reading such a post reinforces the idea of politicians as smiling cryptofascist pseudo-multiculti corporate apologist shills. Which then makes it EVEN MORE difficult to imagine a positive alternative, much less hold that positive alternative in your mind long enough and fixedly enough to withstand the constant rain of crap you will get trying to make that positive alternative a reality."

In the words of Oscar Hammerstein II,

"Talk about things you like to do.
If you no have a dream,
If you no have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?"

In the words of Mike Meyer,

"Third Party, Folks."

*and even if you think you know where you're going, you STILL might not get there - but continue with your own plans, and if they are in accordance with destiny you will reap a rich reward.


Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at March 3, 2011 08:18 AM

mistah charley

I have a wonderful brother-in-law who has spent his whole life working on African development issues who simultaneously likes me very much (as I like him) AND, so he often says, thinks I'm more or less completely full of shit. (I like him for his magnanity and honesty).

This fine fellow and valued friend of mine despite his outward disdain for my cheap cynicism is a big of a method of organizational change called 'appreciative inquiry,' which you can look up on Wikipedia if you're unfamiliar with it. Whenever I hear or read about it, I envy those who can think that way. I do not think my own thought habits are especially productive, because being able to smell an intellectual fart at great distances is a pretty worthless power for a superhero to have.

I have to say, I think Rob Payne is almost as funny with his dry wit above as biscuit eater, and that whole Mel Brooks' crew is obviously briliant. I once actually ended up paying someone in a moment of deep self-inflicted crisis to tell me that I reminded her of a Mel Brooks' character (who shall go unnamed), so I think I must be ridiculous in particularly melbrooksian way. So it goes. Ultimately, we're all ridiculous, but perhaps especially ethnic Scandinavians. Ever since we gave up pillaging, we've been lost souls.

Posted by N E at March 3, 2011 09:57 AM

Comrade N E, rather than just envy those whose can operate their minds in an appreciative inquiry sort of way, why not emulate them? It's partly an attitude, of course, but also it's a way of asking questions - and the answers one gets depend on the questions one asks. You might enjoy reading


Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows

the beginning of Meadows' book

Early on in teaching about systems I often bring out a Slinky. In case you grew up without one, a Slinky is a toy — a long, loose, brightly colored spring that can be made to bounce up and down, or pour back and forth from hand to hand, or walk itself downstairs.

I perch the Slinky on one upturned palm. With the fingers of the other hand I grasp it from the top, partway down its coils. Then I pull the bottom hand away. The lower end of the Slinky drops, bounces back up again, yo-yos up and down, suspended from my fingers above.

"What made the Slinky bounce up and down like that?" I ask students. "Your hand. You took away your hand," they say. So I pick up the box the Slinky came in and hold it the same way, poised on a flattened palm, held from above by the fingers of the other hand. With as much dramatic flourish as I can muster, again I pull the lower hand away. Nothing happens. The box just hangs there.

"Now once again. What made the Slinky bounce up and down?"

The answer clearly lies within the Slinky itself. The hands that manipulate it suppress or release some behavior that is already latent within the structure of the spring. That is a central insight of systems theory. A system is a set of things, people, cells, molecules, or whatever, interconnected in such a way that they produce their own internal dynamics. The system may be buffeted, constricted, triggered, or driven by outside forces. But the system's response to these forces is characteristic of itself, and that response is seldom simple in the real world.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at March 3, 2011 11:35 AM

I just wonder how many of us including the author of this post work or have worked for a corporation led by a CEO who occasionally had to do something very unethical at the urging of the board or stakeholders. If there were dozens of media outlets tweeting and blogging every decision that particular CEO made, you'd probably see that he was a mean and evil prick, or some benevolent guru... Or possibly both! Then what would you do as an employee? Bitch and complain every five seconds?

If any of you have worked with someone who complains about things far beyond his control, it's really effin annoying and often does nothing for the benefit of the organization. By no means am I equating mandatory overtime with the loss of lives, but I'm making a point.

Obama is not the root of the problem, he really isn't even a sizeable branch of the problem. I just don't see the logic in trying to act as if America has a government that A) actually does what the people elect it to do and B) isnt in bed with corporations, wealthy folk, and diplomats around the world with the primary intention of making life better for the few, while the rest of us are squeezed out of a middle class, left to navigate a economically handicapped or war-torn country, and told we'll sort it all out but cutting funding for the things most of you need the most... Like teachers! They're no use these days.

I don't care what cardboard cutout is in office, things won't change as they should, they'll only appear to change for the sake of keeping everyone mindlessly buying (literally and figuratively) into the status quo bullshit.

Until the people YOU voted for are out there in Iron Man costumes saving people from drone attacks, I think there are better things we can do with our MacBooks than bitch about a president who did what anyone else in his position would have inevitably done with minimal margin of error.

Posted by Dexter at March 3, 2011 12:38 PM

" I think there are better things we can do with our MacBooks than bitch about a president who did what anyone else in his position would have inevitably done with minimal margin of error."

That works better as a line supporting this post than as a criticism of it. It is the Obamaphiles who think he is worthy of their time and energy.

Posted by Donald Johnson at March 3, 2011 08:11 PM

Is anyone else as amused as me that a fellow excusing the tendency of CEOs to act in accordance with the sociopathic priorities of corporations calls himself Dexter?

Posted by weaver at March 3, 2011 08:13 PM

Mistah Charley, you ask"

"rather than just envy those whose can operate their minds in an appreciative inquiry sort of way, why not emulate them?"

Good question, but one that would prompt too much navel gazing even for me. The short answer is that one can't be big into appreciative thinking and also be a weapon, and I'm of necessity and by choice now basically a weapon (again). I don't any longer really even remember what came first--the necessity or the choice--but that deadly tag team was too much for me.

Besides, the more reflective I get, the gloomier I get. Like my forebearers, I seem to need to escape into pillaging. Fortunately, I think I have gotten much better at using my paltry talents in that regard to benefit The Good.

Posted by N E at March 4, 2011 12:10 AM
Posted by: N E at March 2, 2011 10:51 PM

I don't want to make people think Presidents are unimportant.

Which puts you in direct contradiction with yourself circa just a few weeks ago.

Posted by: biscuit eater at March 3, 2011 01:36 AM

. . .because for the life of me it seemed as if you were just saying the usual bit about how the president is powerless and the train is set in its tracks, etc.

Looks like others noticed it, too. biscuit eater, that is exactly what he was saying. It's the same, tired bullshit that makes no sense but allows for excellent ego-stroking when taking a morally-repugnant position.

Obama, in and of himself, viewed strictly as an individual, is not special. Nor does he deserve the near-apologia N E provides (nor the inexplicable strawman comaprison to Cheney). Obama is important for how his presence caused others to react. He is not a triumph of political skill or power politics, but of marketing. The real problem is, and was, his supporters, and any other establishment supporters outside of the Republican party. Same goes for Clinton or any other like them; the differences are negligible.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 4, 2011 02:01 AM

Hey NooC! Good to hear from you, but I think you've put me in direct contradiction with yourself putting me in direct contradiction with myself via yourself putting me in direct contradiction with yourself again putting me in contradiction with myself again two weeks ago.

Not that I don't think this is fun--I once carried a copy of Goedel, Escher, Bach halfway around the world at a girlfriend's request so she could give it as a birthday present to a guy about to replace me (that still burns!)--but seriously, who cares if a snippet by me then contradicts a snippet by me now? I do have a larger point, even if it is poorly thought through, incoherent, a waste of time, and perhaps insane.

If you like ranting at me, knock yourself out, but I think you should learn from biscuit eater, who obviously graduated with honors from the Cyrano de Bergerac School of Wit. That clever canine (that kind of biscuit?) made me look stupid and himself look clever with the boisterous genius adroitly displayed by cowboys eating beans around the campfire in a masterpiece of the cinema that he and I each admire.

So lighten up and learn from a master! (him, not me).

Posted by N E at March 4, 2011 08:35 AM

in re N E - learning from the example of our fellow traveler

Comrade N E is clearly a major figure in our little village here at ATR, whose repute has even spread to neighboring villages. Recently he wrote

I have a wonderful brother-in-law who has spent his whole life working on African development issues who simultaneously likes me very much (as I like him) AND, so he often says, thinks I'm more or less completely full of shit. (I like him for his magnanimity and honesty).

I agree with the brother-in-law -- i.e. I like N E, and I think he is intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable, articulate, concerned, friendly, well-intentioned, and full of shit.

This fine fellow ... is a big [fan] of a method of organizational change called 'appreciative inquiry,' which you can look up on Wikipedia if you're unfamiliar with it. Whenever I hear or read about it, I envy those who can think that way. I do not think my own thought habits are especially productive

I agree with N E that his thought habits are not especially productive, although he does have a wide range of knowledge, which I respect. I did look up 'appreciative inquiry', and concluded it's a way of look at things that could be very useful sometimes. I wrote to N E, "rather than just envy those whose can operate their minds in an appreciative inquiry sort of way, why not emulate them?" He replied:

Good question, but one that would prompt too much navel gazing even for me.

Well, I was disappointed by this reply, but partly this was my fault. Spouse and self habitually watch the tv show Jeopardy at dinnertime. Yesterday Final Jeopardy was missed by all three contestants, but missus charley and I were able to provide the correct question - "Who was Oscar Wilde?" My comment to N E should NOT have been in the form of a question. I was not inquiring, I was advising: Go, thou, and do likewise. This is why I appended the first page of Donella Meadows book - I thought reading that book would help him see the world differently.

N E is probably going to stay full of shit, metaphorically speaking - although he pays lip service to the idea that he needs a laxative, he then turns around and says it wouldn't do him any good. But one of his misunderstandings quoted above is so widespread that I want to point it out for the general reader.

N E supposes that I suggested he engage in "navel gazing." At one of the best threads ever at ATR, full of information and good writing by a number of participants, well worth re-reading even now,

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/003164.html

I quoted one of my favorite Monty Python passages,

Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person's soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation.


HOWEVER, and this is something that needs to be explained carefully because it contradicts the assumptions of ordinary life in our culture, self-observation is NOT navel-gazing. It is noticing what's going on around you, and what you are doing, and also how you are feeling. It is paying attention to what's happening WHILE it's happening - NOT chewing the cud of one's earlier life or one's ambivalence about this, that or the other thing. Those interested in knowing more about it could read Self Observation: The Awakening of Conscience: an Owner's Manual by Red Hawk.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at March 4, 2011 09:38 AM

"One nation, indispensible, with weapons and ammunition for all."----NE. NE is a man who has blindly stumbled into revolution and is in the process of being swallowed up by it, much like those in the Middle East, much like ALL of US. Facinating, no doubt, self reflecting, that too, just remember to affix bayonets and fire when YOU see the whites of their eyes.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 4, 2011 01:27 PM

Ah, mistah charley, sorry to disappoint, but though I still like dropping in and rattling off some mess of ideas in this little village, I really am busy these days starting my incipient but I hope soon burgeoning war against various gangs of incorporated thieves, as well as trying to keep missus NE and the little NEs alive, an enterprise of no small consequence, especially to them.

One thing I know is that a conflicted person is not effective. The old gloomy, brilliant Kierkegaard wrote an essay titled "Purity of Heart is the will to One Thing," and he was on to something there. The journey you describe sounds like a great journey, and one that I envy, as I said, but that's as far as I can go in that direction at present (and probably in this life) without undermining my own present, developing singleness of purpose. So too much wisdom and personal growth would make me less effective.

Posted by N E at March 4, 2011 06:34 PM

N E - Please believe that I sincerely wish you well, in general, and in particular in your struggle against "various gangs of incorporated thieves". Your own courageous example of self-disclosure sncouraged me to take the liberty of speaking so frankly about you.

It might be that our exchange of views could perhaps be instructive to one of our fellow potentially sentient beings in some way that we never become aware of. May the Creative Forces of the Universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the metaphorical Night with the Light from Above.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at March 5, 2011 07:22 AM

mistah charley

I had to laugh when I saw "sncouraged me" and wonder if that was a typo or a brilliant new word combining "snore" and "encourage".

Now that we live in the age of being unable to see the forest for the trees, sometimes called the 'information age,' I too have often wondered if perchance someone someday might learn something--perhaps something that I thought long and hard about and compulsively read a million books to understand about becaause what seemed true disturbed and angered me--but I'm not counting on it. It's hard for me to even rememember some of the information I not so long ago tried so hard to hang onto, because the information creates dissonance that makes it harder for me to focus, and I need my brain full of more useful crap again now.

As for others, like the Brit journalist George Monbiot has/had on the top of his blog, "Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it." (Ironically, I believe this applies to him too.)

I think the potentially sentient beings may or may not learn something, and if they do it will probably be something different than we'd expect, but I enjoy the conversation anyway. And thanks for rooting for me against the gangs of incorporated thieves--there sure are a lot of them! I'm feeling a little like Butch and Sundance in Bolivia!

Posted by N E at March 5, 2011 08:05 AM