Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Referral to Some Links

Just want to refer readers to this article on the National Defense Authorization Act.

I was reading a post by Gay Mystic on post election reflections and followed a link to Chris Hodges' article in which he basically vilifies Obama for defending this current military spending bill due to a provision allowing unconstitutional arrest and holding of anyone suspected of "substantially supporting" the enemy.  The vague language can put any journalist at risk with no recourse to the law or the courts.  In some extreme hypothetical, it could put any of us at risk, if we are deemed a threat.  There has been a law suit filed and one judge has ruled that the provisions in question are unconstitutional.  The DOJ (Obama Administration) is defending the law.  To some liberals his defense of this bill is the reason they did not vote for him and they think he is two-faced in offering a "liberal" face to the public while hiding his "fascist" face from the public.

What do readers think?


  1. What this reader thinks is 1) there was no other realistic choice but Obama, and 2) nobody cares about this detention law. And 3) the power once having been gained, it will never be relinquished.

    We do not live in a small, happy, virtuous, agrarian republic anymore as the mythology was even down to my early childhood. We live in a vast and terrible empire like many others that have come before, and will no doubt follow.

    Obama has continued the so-called anti-terrorist laws and policies of George Bush without blinking an eye, without hesitating for a second. He hasn't even closed Guantanmo prison as he promised to do. And he's not going to. Power does not willingly stuff itself back into the bottle.

    Chris Hedges overstates the case but I agree with the general direction of his thoughts. The Melville quote about our having "civilized bodies and barbarous souls" - written in the depth of the pure-hearted, God-fearing Victorian age, mind you - is simply describing all of human nature in every century and clime.

    It is the same thought as the one famously expressed by Socrates in his Apology. My rough paraphrase: "In obedience to the God, I go among you asking you to think more of your characters and your souls than of your wealth and your bodies." But nobody, and no civilization, ever does - not for very long. It takes great and continued discipline and self-denial to do that, which goes against the grain of human nature.

    And so the long, tragic story of mankind, with all its wars and murders and inequalities and injustices of every kind, goes on and on. And as Yeats wrote, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." That was a hundred years ago - nothing has changed. Nothing ever does, just the names and the outward fashions of trivial details. But human nature is always the same, a glad smile concealing a heart of darkness, always ultimately selfish, always cruel to the outsider, the Other.

    And nobody cares. They say they do; but not enough to do anything to change it all. The ones who do are usually religious or political fanatics who just substitute one form of tyranny and injustice for another.

    There's my 2c; your mileage may vary, of course.

  2. Here was my less referenced response to the Gay Mystic post:
    Chris Hedges article is a lot of stirring words but offers little in the way of alternatives. For someone "without a country", he has the luxury of being able to criticize the dysfunctional US political system and while his criticism may have merit, it has little practical application for me, here and now as a voter and citizen of the US. Sometimes the lesser of two evils is the only real choice; in this past election, I don't believe we were faced with that, as I believe Obama is basically a decent human being who is striving to move us toward a more equitable society. He is not without his faults and, as all leaders, he must operate within a universe, fraught with evils that he has not created. The world is a complicated place. Power is is a force that has its tentacles choking off every source of sustenance to feed its insatiable appetite. Jesus said the poor will always be with us...conversely, I'd guess, so will the wealthy and the powerful. We are left with making the most moral choices possible, acknowledging that there will always be ambiguities and conflicting values, no matter. So, are we to do nothing? Sit on our hands while the more and more powerful take charge? Not vote at all? Vote for candidates who have no possibility of winning - to make a statement? My vote may be a finger in the hole in the dyke, but maybe my finger helped stem a tide of destruction, at least for now. Prophetic voices are certainly needed in all eras, but wouldn't you know, there are people who would die for their prophets, even if we think they are false.

  3. A very fine response, Frank, and very much in harmony with what I wrote. Every now and then God or the universe or the laws of chance produce a saint - religious or secular - who is so keenly motivated and so well placed as to tip the balances of the world towards the good. But for the rest of us, toiling away in obscurity and beset by frustrations and limitations on every side, a finger in the dike is the best we can do, if we can even manage that. And at least keep the thought of the good alive, among our own small circles and within our own hearts.



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