Tag Archives: aaron

The Books of Leviticus and Numbers

There seems to have been an ancient work, long since lost, documenting conquest of Canaan. It is in a way parallel to the story of the patriarchs (partially recorded in Genesis) and the establishment of the Kingdom (in Samuel). In the scriptures we now have, it seems primarily scattered in Exodus (covering the baptism of blood and the construction of the Tabernacle), Numbers (called The Wilderness in Hebrew), and Joshua (the action-climax and post-action denouement of the story).

It’s also the story of Moses’s moral decay: that "most humble man" is the Walter White of the Bible. But just as Breaking Bad is the story not just of Walter’s decay but of the grief of those around him, these scriptures are the story not just of Moses’s decline but the story of the deaths of those he loved.

To see this, look at the book immediately before Numbers: Leviticus. It is primary a book of laws, a journal of the well ordered place of fetishism in human society. But there’s one chapter of narrative in Leviticus that’s required to understand Numbers — the death of Aaron’s sons:

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.

So fire went out from the LORD
and devoured them,
and they died before the LORD.

And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’"

So Aaron held his peace.
Leviticus 10:1-3

The baptism of blood in Exodus may symbolize the loss of the part to save the whole. But Leviticus-Numbers feels like just loss. Aaron loses his sons. Moses loses his brother Aaron.

Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son;
and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain.

Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. Now when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days.
Numbers 20:28-29

Moses loses his divine authority.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron,

"Because you did not believe Me,
to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel,
therefore you shall not bring this assembly
into the land which I have given them."
Numbers 20:12

And then even his humanity.

And Moses said to them: "Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately.
Numbers 31:15-17

The same theme of loss is reflected in the adversaries of the Israelites, the Canaanite kings who fear the loss of their lands, and the wizard Balaam who prophesied the victory of Almighty God:

They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian.

Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword.
Numbers 31:8

And even the people themselves:

For the LORD had said of them,

"They shall surely die in the wilderness."

So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
Numbers 26:65

Through Leviticus-Numbers Aaron the High Priest lost his family, his life, and even (though the horrific actions of Moses) his legacy through his brother. Battles will be won in the future, after the end of his natural life, but for the wilderness generation there is pain, and murmuring, and death, and loss.

What should be made of this?

The High Priest loses everything, including his life, including the lives of his people. He is betrayed by those entrusted to help him. He loses those closest to him.

These themes are documented elsewhere in the Bible. That sense of successful futility in Ecclesiastes and Job, the slow political destruction of Kings, the horror of Lamentations or the post-Resurrection despair felt by John. Are these all types of Lent, best understood as reflections of the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

If we are to imitate Christ who harrowed hell on that day, what does that mean for us?

I don’t know. But whenever I feel pain I have experienced intellectualized like this, I feel like Aaron: hurt, sarcastic, questioning:

And Aaron said to Moses, "Look, this day they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and such things have befallen me!

If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD?"
Leviticus 10:19

What else are you expecting me to do?

What else, when even holding our peace is too much to bare?

I read the books of Leviticus and Numbers in Robert Alter’s translation.

Sacrifice

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

I’ll avoid quoting cliche’ but we all know the text of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Inaugural Address. At a time when there was much uncertainty in the world, the President did not ask us to fend for ourselves but to band together and make sacrifices for the greater good of each other and the world. Later, at a speech at Rice University, he famously said “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

In his speech on January 31, President Bush noted the following:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

In this statement, the President is throwing the onus of oil consumption reduction on scientists and engineers, not on consumers and definitely not on producers. Again, no request for sacrifice from the voting public. Has patriotism gone to exclude the self-giving that Kennedy and others asked of us?


In reading this and reflecting, it occurred to me that this President Bush is very hesitant to ask anything of the American people, the Military excluded. We shy away from heavy environmental regulation because it may hamper our ability to do business efficiently. We opt out of the Kyoto Protocol, noting that other countries would not be expected to sacrifice as much as we do. We continue to decrease taxes for those who need it the least, and when I say need I mean honest, physical need. We ignore the warning signs of global warming, glacial retraction and seawater acidity, because no one has proven definitively enough for the detractors that we can stop it or that it’s our fault… Even though a simple reduction in world greenhouse emissions could show us a positive or negative change in warming acceleration in less than a decade. The President is eager to push Health Savings Accounts on the American public, asking us to spend more of our own money or go to the doctor less, all in an effort to better pad the pockets of investors and CEOs.

It seems that in every turn, the current Administration is only interested in making more, keeping more, and not in using less or making less. I understand that capitalism thrives on the efficiency of everyone being as greedy as possible, but could it not also thrive on people being as giving as possible?

Dan and I discussed at length the idea of a fuel tax. We thought that an increase in the price of gasoline might drive down demand. We discussed that this tax could be made fairer by giving rebates at tax-time for miles driven. In this system, those who drove the least would be rewarded and those that drove the most would even out. But we both know this idea would be political suicide for whoever attempted to legislate it. Again, no ask for sacrifice. Is it that unpalatable to the American public? For every person who volunteers for the military, where is the person willing to pay $5/gallon for gas? For everyone who thinks the President is infallible, where is the person trading in his tax-subsidized SUV for a hybrid, or even a higher fuel-efficiency vehicle? Again, efforts to mandate increased efficiency were retarded to spare the automobile industry the brunt of higher cost of manufacture. Some manufacturers even tweaked their models slightly so as to be larger than the government standard ‘light truck’ qualification, thereby exempting themselves from even the relaxed newer regulation. And who is crying foul? A marginalized Democratic minority?

This year, the economics of the situation got to me. I started riding my bike to work more frequently and I second-guessed a lot of short trips. I already had a fuel-efficient vehicle (32mpg) but I have paid more attention to keeping it efficient… Maintenance and more pragmatic operation. The President is pushing for more nuclear energy, which I applaud, but what’s wrong with wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy? Almost no mention of them in the speech. He mentions switchgrass farming for cellulose alcohol, a more efficient form of combustible than ethanol. But where is the mention of agricultural subsidies to the farmers growing an initially unprofitable crop?

I am interested to see where the Administration goes with this. I have great hopes for the American people. In the same speech, President Bush vowed billions for the teaching of math and science. And in the same term, argues that intelligent design ought to be taught in public schools. I think if we can only overcome the limitation of our President, we just might make it.

And the Seventh Seal breaketh…

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

Well, a month and ten days after the invitation was extended, I decide to sully TDAXP with my presence. I’m posting in the category “Democrats,” although by rights I think I ought to make a completely new TDAXP category, say perhaps “Eat Your Fishheads” or “Things You Know are Right (Left),” but I’ll tamper with Google rank later. TDAXP has put a lot of work into his setup and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize it. Did you know it is Google Search #1 for “polar bear fetish”? Go ahead, look it up. That doesn’t happen by accident.

Anways, enough chicanery. I’ve nearly posted two or three times on various topics since Dan’s invitation to blog, but kept stopping short for fear of not enough time or not enough research to do the topic justice. So, to finally quiet him up about not publishing, and to hopefully stave off another reminder that my own precious “blog” (http://aaron.groundrocket.org) is down, I’m going to pseudo post and do better the next time. Here we go.


A Lot of People Supporting Tom Daschle… In Iowa – Daschle has been all over IA in recent months. He spoke at the annual Democrat’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in November and spoke again at the beginning of this month at the University of Iowa at Ames. Then, just a few days ago, went to bat for IA Governor-hopeful Chet Culver, stating “Chet is in the strongest position to be the next governor.” Why so much time in Iowa when more money could be picked up courting wealthy donors in much bluer states? Naturally, one assumes Presidential aspirations. But why no visits to New Hampshire?

John McCain – Our next president is spending a lot of time getting his name in the news on inconsequential matters. What does John McCain know about ‘ala carte’ cable television? Why does he get in a pseudo-partisan fight with Democrat wunderkind Barack Obama over how to best approach a bipartisan call for lobbying reform? Is any press good press in a Republican primary that thus far seems to be winnable on name recognition?

Abortion in South Dakota – Roger Hunt of Brandon and a number of his colleagues are sealing their political doom during our current legislative session. Another ban on abortion in this state has passed through the legislature by a large margin. This time it does contain a provision for a mother’s threatened life. Governor Rounds will likely sign. There will no doubt be a number of costly legal battles, but at least some lawyers will get rich at South Dakota taxpayer expense. Why bother ending this fight, Hunt, et al? What will you campaign on in the next election? Fiscal responsibility? Your party gave that up with Bush. Devotion to agriculture? Bush and Thune want unprofitable farming stricken from South Dakota’s subsidies list. Family values? South Dakota doesn’t care about families, only the unborn. Families are welcome to be torn apart by legal gambling, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc. as long as all children, wanted or unwanted, get a chance to grow up on the Reservation or the slums of Sioux Falls. South Dakota Republicans won the Events Center battle (rightly so) but their turnouts are going to fall dramatically if they don’t have the Pro-Life zealots holding candlelight vigils before every election.

Finally, some self-serving observation. South Dakota is about to pass a Transportation Bill that declassifies bicycles and horses as vehicles. The local news, then national, then Fark.com all came to the ( ridiculous ) conclusion that this was to allow our hillbilly ( and fit? ) alcoholics to find their way home without resorting to driving under the influence. The unintended consequence, which I believe the lawmakers have not thought through, is to endanger the rights of cyclists and equestrians on public highways. I am concerned that losing status as an automobile will place any liability for traffic accidents not on the at-fault party, but on the cyclist or horse rider. I will be very melancholy the day ( imagine Republican sneer ) “some lawyer” gets a reckless, inattentive, or just plain ignorant asshole off after he kills some bicyclist training for the Tour de Kota.

Well, I thought you could all use a break from Dan’s homework. Thanks for listening. I’ll rant more later.

Blissful ignorance and naivety do not a Rapture make…

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

While no one is being thrown to the lions, much to my dismay, it seems a number of Christians in the United States are feeling rather persecuted. Their beliefs are mocked in schools by men of pagan science and the great unwashed masses prefer to pursue greed and romance during this Holi-Day season, rather than celebrate the birth of a man dedicated scholars of equally mistranslated ancient systems of control cannot agree existed or mattered.

Let’s get a couple things straight.

– Christmas is under no more attack than Bass Fishing or Monday Night Football. No one cares about the Lord until after the presents are unwrapped. For all the faithful lined up to pray for the dismissal of activist judges and the safe return of Natalee Halloway, Christmas sales were as robust this year as any. Christmas is about giving gifts, getting gifts, getting laid, getting drunk, fighting with family, and then getting blitzed and resolving to lose weight, quit smoking, go to church more and have fewer unwanted pregnancies next year. If Christmas is under attack by anyone, it’s commercialism, and I doubt there will be a Justice Sunday protesting holiday opportunism by Wal-Mart and anyone else who makes a buck off the rape of Christianity’s founder.

There are some wackos out there who want Nativity Scenes taken down. But there are wackos out there blowing up abortion clinics, too. You won’t hear Al Franken or Rhandi Rhodes talking about them, though, as if they’re some sort of organized campaign (though they clearly are). But to hear O’Reilly or Limbaugh talk, Democrats and ACLU members are kicking down crosses and burning Baby Jesus, marching to Stalin’s drum. There’s no organized campaign to destroy Christianity. There is a campaign for equal representation. Your religion is exclusive to every other. Just like every other religion is exclusive to yours. Would the Jezalots complain if someone wanted the Star of David taken down, or the Moslem Crescent? Perhaps we should put on a Holiday program in public schools about the Road to Enlightenment the Buddhist follows? “Not in my country!” you howl, Budweiser held aloft. “This country was founded by Christians!” Wrong. I could quote Jefferson and Franklin and a number of others, but you’ve seen that debate before. You know you’re in the wrong, and no amount of clinging to a biography written 3 lifetimes after someone’s death will change that.

The point to it all is “get your mystic bullshit off my public property.” Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, secular humanists, communists, homosexuals, legal immigrants and corporations own every building financed by taxes in this formerly great country. Therefore they deserve equal representation, or at the least, no exclusively single-tracked representation. No one gives a rip they are Christian symbols. They care that it’s religious symbols at all. Your imaginary Guy in the Sky is just as important to you as it is to them. So why can’t we all get along and agree to just leave him at home when it comes to libraries and federal buildings? I guess it would take someone of Jesus’ wisdom to come to that simple conclusion. I wonder how many of the Christians would howl if the government started teaching the Native American creation story in science class? Hypocrites.

– Your misguided morality isn’t under fire from sexual deviants either. I watched with great interest as the sex education fiasco rolled through the Sioux Falls public school system. A bunch of naive parents think their children don’t know what a blowjob is or that sex without a condom might lead to pregnancy. They’ve learned enough about all that in your regular Prime-Time programming. An episode of CSI:Miami recently featured a fraternity hazing incident that involved anal sodomy. I bet Ma and Pa Fundie loved explaining that one to the kids. “That’s what them Democrat Faggots do, Billy. Now go read yer Bible before the Knoxville race comes on.” If you people are so concerned about the inappropriateness on TV, campaign against police dramas and the talentless whores on American Idol. Turn your children onto PBS or the History Channel and open their eyes to the damage caused by ignorance and intolerance over the bloody and terrible reign of Christianity. Or turn the TV off and interact with the product of your blessed union. Educating and caring for your child used to be what parents do. Now they just work to pay themselves to death for the junk they don’t need and divorce when they can’t take the pressure.

– Local ignoramus with a keyboard, “Sibby”, wants everyone to know what Planned Parenthood’s agenda really is. His claim seems to be that they want your children engaging in oral sex and anal sex and having orgies. Newsflash, Sibby. The same reason you got off on your Dad’s stolen Playboys is the reason kids figure out that Tab A goes into Slot B. It’s called hormones, and no one needs to teach Dick and Jane how to make babies. The kids don’t need Planned Parenthood to teach them that. But what Planned Parenthood or a realistic sex education program can teach the kids is that abstinence, while unlikely to happen or endure, is the only safe sex, but when the hormone lid blows, there’s some things you can do to avoid the risk of pregnancy or the spread of disease. Teaching them otherwise would be inappropriate and sad, but it’s exactly what these misguided mystics want. Their Utopia is sexless but full of violent police drama and a lot of turning left whilst accelerating. I highly doubt Sibby waited until he was married to make love to a woman for the first time, but if he did, fair play to you, sir. If not, I hope the dirty damn hippies of yesteryear taught you about proper precautions and maybe some alternatives to seeding the baby beanfield. I really have a hard time believing that Planned Parenthood or the Sioux Falls School Board’s ultimate goal is to have kids having kids. I think anything but. But to hear some blinder-sporting folk tell it, their perversion knows no bounds.

I have a lot more to say about the misguided attempts by Christians to make my life better, but let me close with saying this: Our country was founded by people hoping to escape religious persecution. It went on to become the greatest country in the world. Why don’t you all leave, form a new one where you’re free to practice your caveman beliefs, and in 200 years, kick our Heathen asses? While you’re gone, I’ll be reveling in the reality of violence, pre-marital sex, taxes and everything else nature intended. I just thank your God that my parents had the smarts to tell me to watch my mouth when the other guy is a lot bigger, keep my kidmaker from needlessly ruining my life early, and doing what makes everyone a better person: not forcing my beliefs on anyone else. You’re free to live in a delusion. Don’t legislate it onto my kids, my public spaces and my Constitution.

Earth to Liberals…

“Earth to Liberals,” a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon on Non-Partisan Sanity

Bush’s plan is working perfectly. His Iraq strategy is so brilliant I would say it’s flawless… It’s just not the plan he advertises.

As Barnett has quoted, “The boys are never coming home.”

I was recently reflecting on the price of security. I was thinking about all the ridiculous warnings and the Terror Alert System. I was thinking about the constant cloud of fear that the Bush Administration keeps in the air to keep people in line. About threatening to veto an Anti-Torture amendment with a straight face. I thought, “How can we possibly stand by and allow this Administration to be so openly evil?” It then occurred to me that the evil they perpetrate is far worse than that which is plainly visible to us on a day to day basis.

George W. Bush really is keeping us safe from terrorists. After my epiphany, it’s really the first time I’ve agreed with that sentiment, and it’s chilling. “How?” dear reader? Stay with me, it all comes together.

We’re waging a war of ideas. Ward Churchill may not be a popular figure, but he’s not far from correct. In this case, we’re pushing a globalization agenda that a regressively conservative Middle East doesn’t want for our own economic benefit. Not much different than the Nazi economic machine oiling their gears and creating new jobs with the blood of innocents. To the Middle Easterner with nothing slowly losing his identity in an “Americanized” world, he may as well be the persecuted Jew. His religion is being torn apart by Westernized ideas, and as we’ve seen in the backward South and the parish halls of the hypocrite Evangelists, religion is all you need. Let the Lord be your Shepherd, you shall not want… Nor think, nor accept, nor forgive. With a nod toward Friedman and not the now-foolish looking deists of yesterday, the Flat Earth is falling down around the Mohamedan’s ears. There is now only desolation and despair for the Fundamentalist Middle Easterner. He can fight the Great Satan, or be destroyed by it… And this slumbering giant needs no provocation to awaken. We have been rolling over countless cultures and faiths in our sleepy pursuit of another dollar, another cheap oil field, another sweatshop, another diamond mine.

We’re so caught up in our American way of life, we do not consider those we are destroying… But like the poor souls in the Towers, I have to admit, it’s not our fault. We’ve been raised to believe it’s manifest destiny. We ran out of West, young man, so now we’re going back East… Middle East. I’m no socialist. I’m no bleeding heart. Our way of life, minus the recent “progress” of the Right, is ideal. Yes, there will always be poor. Yes, there will always be famine. Yes, there will always be disease. There is no utopia, religious or social. We cannot strive to be any better than we were in 1998. We can make our uber-rich a few more dollars, we can defer the tax man for investments and the other workless gains of the wealthy. Or we can give away all the wealthy’s money to the poor, but we won’t be in any better position. We’ll just have more people unwilling to work for their own betterment. Yes, there’s a little libertarian in me… But not much. And it’s fading fast.

There is and always will be a war of ideas… And here is where Bush’s plan lies… This is a war which must be fought. We will no sooner give up our Starbuck’s and SUVs than Achmed will give up Allah, the burkha, or the notion of sovereignty. Bush is keeping us safe from terrorists by sacrificing the lives of American boys and girls, predominantly poor, predominantly black, and predominantly deserving of much better. They are making a sacrifice the right-wing bloggers, the aging Senators, and the distainful religious warriors w/o arms refuse to do. He has put us into a quagmire in Iraq to protect us from assaults at home. The borders of Iraq overflow with Muslim extremists looking to blow themselves up in crowds of children and American soldiers… And every time one does, there is one less A-Rab to blow himself up in an American metropolitan financial center. Bush has gotten us into war with Germany so we will not have to fight Hitler at home. If he can install a weakling democracy in Iraq, it will no doubt follow the careful guidance of its American handlers, much as the clueless President does now. They will globalize, they will privatize, they will de-socialize… Their citizens will be all that much better off for it, but they will be all that much worse off for it. They will have Nike and McDonald’s, but they will be the envy and enemy of their Muslim brothers… The carrot of wealth and happiness will lead Iraq into a period of economic growth it has never known… And its citizens will embrace it wholeheartedly. And in doing so, earn the enmity of every fundamentalist nation in the Middle East.

Bush is making Iraq our whipping boy. The culture war can take place between the Kurds, the Turks, the Iranians, the Sunni and the Shi’ite. The terrorists need not come to the borders of America to fight capitalism and Westernization. They can do it on the streets of Baghdad. In the shopping malls and soon-constructed banks and financial centers. On the Iraqi stock exchange, eventually. We are not installing a democracy. We are not giving them freedom. We are turning former brothers against each other so we need not bear the brunt of the economically and socially disadvantaged’s hatred of the West.

We are in a quagmire in Iraq, one Bush has no intention of withdrawing from, now or ever. As long as he can keep the terrorists at each others’ throats via their moneypurses and their ideals, he can keep America safe and continue to push his own regressive religious agenda at home… And as long as the proof is in the pudding, and there are no terrorist attacks in America, he can keep pointing out his success, and people will continue to vote for him and his ilk.

Response to Aaron’s Response to Conservatives’ Response to Durban’s Response to Bush’s Response to Terrorism

Mortified right ignores message of Durbin speech,” by Aaron, tdaxp, 22 June 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/22/mortified_right_ignores_message_of_durbin_speech.html.

I was delighted by Aarons’ surprise guest blogging. A modified version of this post was going to be a comment to his work, but it exceeds the maximum comment length. So… enjoy!

Borrowing a tactic from Dan, the Right has ceaselessly chastised Senator Durbin the past few days for comments likening Guantanamo to concentration camps.

To the extent it is a swarm attack, it is borrowing a tactic from RAND, if not the very history of war itself.

They’ve happily made so much noise about the syntax that the return value has been conveniently ignored. This is a masterful tactic.

And an old one, even in American politics. See towering genius Chris Bower’s review of “The Republican Noise Machine”.

Focus on the text and not the message. Unlike Dan, however, they have no convenient excuse like “I’m drunk by 3pm” or “I have no concept of right or wrong” to cover for their maneuvering.”

To crib Machiavelli, their “excuse” is that they are attempting to liberate American politics from the barbarians

And to crib St. Paul, they know they wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spirtual wickedness in high places.

Both writers saw struggle as a multi-generational effort to achieve a desired goal. Both knew that one’s enemies whither and die as the strugglign continues. Both had disdain for those who fought just to fight.

Successful movements rarely wrestle for the fun of it. They wrestle to create a better world against an implacable foe.

If they had no concept of right and wrong, they would have no reason for their maneuverings. They manevuer because they do believe in right and do detest wrong.

Former President Clinton was absolutely correct in his comments that we need to either clean up or we need to shut it down.

Former President Clinton was exactly right in what he said.

When we watch the news, we’re horrified to see civilians and military personnel alike taken hostage and presumably harmed or tortured by enemy combatants. However, there’s no outrage that the very same is most likely going on outside the borders of our great Nation, just under our supervision?

What civilians have been taken hostage and tortured under our supervision?

A lot of Americans were dismayed there was no Muslim outrage at the events occurring in the Middle East. Why would there be? There’s no Christian outrage that the detainees holy symbols are being desecrated, that their way of life in regard to women and sexuality is constantly being affronted, or that they’re being forced to listen to American pop music.

“their way of life in regard to women and sexuality is constantly being affronted”

*ouch!*

Excuse me, I fell out of my chair from the irony.

The American Left works for generations to radically alter the American way of life in regard to women and sexuality, and now realizes the psychic harm such actions cause?

While I would welcome strippers and would laugh at the misguided destruction of Bibles, as the message is what’s important to me, not the worthless paper it’s printed on, the music would definitely be torture.

Dan has expressed concern that these people “do not deserve honor or humanity or honesty.” What he’s failed to do is distance himself from moral relativism.

See the Machiavelli and Paul comments. Such actions are needed because there is an absolute good. In pre-Modern societies (Chivalrous and Ottoman Europe being good examples), there were powerful codes of conduct in war because they recognized war was meaningless. Likewise, the reason for the Shogunate abolishing firearms.

It’s only when a “happy ending” is discovered, when a morality becomes absolute, that violence spirals upwards.

See also the studies finding a strong correlation between monotheism and violence. Same cause.

He has determined that some of these uncharged “criminals” do not deserve to be treated well, or for that matter, not subjected to cruelty or torture.

They are not criminals. American criminals deserve the protection of American citizenshp. Some of my more leftward posts explore this need.

At Zen Pundit, Mark Safranski and I discussed the role of criminals in society, and I expressed my admiration for Japan’s “management” of a criminal class

The detainees in Guantanemo are not criminals. They are soldiers and warriors.

He says this because presumably they’re responsible for or have some connection to the deaths of Americans, or perhaps they’ve stolen his corporate card number and are charging phone sex. Either way, his hatred for enemy hostage-takers can be assumed.

Hatred is dangerous. In the Christian tradition, Paul and Jesus recognized the self-limiting aspect of hate. In the early Renaissance, Machiavelli saw how it warps rationality and changes desired goals.

So I try to love them, and I know I have sympathy for them. And I recognize them as dangerous soldiers and warriors.

But to them, are the people they are capturing, torturing, and in some cases beheading on television not responsible for the deaths of THEIR people?

We know bin Laden thinks that way, yeah. He has stated that in a democracy the people control the government and so are individually responsible for the behavior of that government.

Despite having some MBA training, bin Laden either never grasped the concept of “corporate governance” or else rejected it.

I doubt these men are blowing themselves up in at military checkpoints because they’ve nothing better to do. They must perceive their way of life must be in jeopardy,

Exactly.

The terrorists do know better.

and it is America that is responsible.

Largely, yes.

While I do not lament the loss of their backwards cultures,

They’re ancient culture was largely destroyed by big-government statist projects from that horrid half-century, the late 20th.

We are witnessing the desperate attempt to hold on to remnants of the past, and hopefully restore it.

I have noticed a similar devout pessimism among Missouri Synod Lutherans.

their human rights violations, or their lack of respect for women, I do understand that these things they think are “normal” and that they do not like having their views changed forcibly.

I’m not justifying their actions. But I’m saying that if we want to level the playing field,

Why do we want to level the playing field? We don’t want a fair fight — we want a very unfair fight in our advantage.

we have to show the enemy that we’re treating prisoners with respect

Why, if the enemy believes that respect must be earned?

and that we are not harming them, we are not being destructive in regards to their beliefs,

Their beliefs are why they are warriors. To the extent practical we must destroy or subvert their beliefs.

and that we have a legal and well-documented due process for them.

The enemy could care less. They will not stop if we are kinder to them.

However, legal and well-documented due process is useful in preventing the enemy from morally isolating us.

The President hides behind comments like “processing these men would put our troops in danger” and other bait-and-switch tactics. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” What damage could determining these mens’ guilt or innocence do to our current operations in the Middle East?

In order to have a fair trial, the accused would need access to the evidence against them. It may be that a substantial portion of the evidence in nearly all cases cannot be shared, because its very nature would reveal sources and/or methods.

If Ackbar is found innocent, what is likely to happen? He returns to Iraq/Afghanistan and tells his comrades “be careful, the employ women in their ranks, who at any moment may begin to dance and remove their clothing to Britney Spears music… I saw it with my own eyes, and I may never sleep again… Oh, also, they’re looking for us in Pakistan now too.” What sensitive information could they give up? “They are searching for our leaders in the mountains along the border… Oh, you know? Yeah, I guess it’s hard to miss the tanks and helicopters and Hum-Vees, and that FoxNews van is quite colorful for a desert setting.

He returns to tell his comrades “I have lived to fight another day.”

While possibly shortsighted as to the quick rhetoric and shallow understanding of his detractors, Senator Durbin was exactly correct. The Nazis detained people they determined to be guilty without a trial of their peers, held them in conditions that were aversive to their needs and their faiths. The SS pulled people from the streets who were never heard from again and weren’t acknowledged as being prisoners of war. The Nazis decided that Jews were the enemy because of their actions that affronted their beliefs. They believed the Jews were responsible for the starving deaths and horrible economy of their people. They provided no evidence to the people of Germany that the Jews were criminals or had done anything wrong.

Genetic fallacy, reductio ad hitlerum variant.

Perhaps we could see a list of crimes the Guantanamo detainees are being held for?

They are not criminals. To the extent they are in that special class, “war criminals,” the charge would be they operated as franc tireurs.

But on that charge, we could care less.

The hostage-taking and murder by suicide-bombing of our people is deplorable. The Arabs in this case are mimicking the Nazis quite well. But we are putting on a good show as well.

Introducing Guest Blogger Aaron

As I mentioned, during my vacation tdaxp will post my thesis. Additionally, I am happy to announce a guest blogger: Aaron. While a liberal Democrat, Aaron is very intelligent and we agree on the systematic nature of most issues. Aaron is an intelligent, creative, vertical, and horizontal thinker. He also runs aaron.mmi.net, a social blog that tdaxp spun off from. To use the cool hip lingo, Aaron would be my blogfather.

Please give him a kind welcome.

Aaron on Everything

I’m Quite Left…,” by Aaron, tdaxp, 22 March 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/03/18/rounds_south_dakota_s_abraham_lincoln.html.

Aaron provides us with an airchair view of the world. He’s right on a lot of things, so as a true friend I will mention only those where he is misguided…

…I don’t support handouts to the rich, like a tax cut that’s done little to rejuvenate a slow economy…

I agree that Keynesian “stimulation” of the economy by providing tax cuts are unwise. Sadly, Keynes’s “something for nothing” philosophy has resounated with Americans ever since FDR, so politicians of all parties use it as an excuse to increase spending and/or cut taxes.

Taxes should be set to create a stable, high-growth economy, not manipulated as a short-term fix for a slowing one.

…or the OK to drill for oil where it won’t do anyone but the oil companies any good

ANWR has three main winners and two main losers

Winners

  • Oil providers involved in it
  • Oil consumers
  • Oil-substitute consumers

Losers

  • Oil providers not involved in it
  • Oil-substitute providers

Oil providers involved in ANWR could only receive all of the social gains from it if they were a monopoly or perfect cartel.

Of course ANWR has the potential to change very-long-run calculations as well, but the future is too uncertain to dwell on those.

Even Mr. Savage will have a hard time refuting the fact that no oil will come from ANWR for many years, no matter how many resolutions are passed

Aaron knows my dim view of Mr. Savage. However, Aaron’s premise is incorrect. If not changing oil calculations until the long term is a problem, then green strategies would not make sense either. After all, it will take years for hybrid cars to cut into oil consumption!

Prayer in schools? Sure, why not. As long as you’d be fine going to a Hindu country and praying their prayers in their schools

I am not speaking for Mr. Belew, and I’m against force prayers, but…

Hinduism can be just as effective a horizontal control mechanism as Christianity. Therefore, let Hindu communities lead public Hindu prayers in America!

(Not that there aren’t much worse problems with the whole public education system in the first place…)

As a Christian, do you want their ideals forced on you just because you’re the minority?

I would guess a good part of Belew’s anti-liberal disposition comes from having government forcing liberal views on him for years. While Bush is slowly rolling those back, social engineering has been government policy for a long time.

The people who protested the Vietnam war weren’t wrong. It was the wrong war at the wrong time. The fight against communism was just yesterday’s religious jihad. There will always be war. Should women and children be murdered so we can raise our flag and be proud of our work? War is one thing. Rape and murder is another. Vietnam was the latter. Read a book

Vietnam was the right war at the right time. While it failed in its central goal, it was successful. The long-term consistent attack on Communist infrastructure robbed the movement of momentum elsewhere in South East Asia. At the same time, the obliteration of modern Vietnam showed all the the price of Communism was unacceptably high. Like the Cuban boycott, the Vietnam War was a success.

Communism was a system of mass slavery. There was no freedom of religion, no freedom of conscience, no freedom of speech, no freedom of work.

Saying there “will always be war” is either demonstrably wrong (it has been, well, ever since Pennsylvania and New York slugged it out) or a meaningless tautology (business as a form of war???).

The end years of the Global War on Communism coincided with the beginning of a Jihad. But there the similarities ended.

The Viet Cong used rape and murder to destroy South Vietnamese civil society. Fortunately, the VC were destroyed during the disasterous (for them) Tet Offensive.

When Warren Buffett, who should be giddy like a schoolgirl at Bush’s tax cuts writes a letter to the Washington Post questioning the utility of them, don’t you have to wonder?

Almost none of Mr. Buffet’s income is earned income. He was barely effected by the income tax cuts.

It is easy being generous with other people’s money.

Thanks for the comments.

Welfare, Medicine, Misc

I agree, welfare should go,” by “Aaron,” tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/08/wages_and_prices.html, 10 January 2005.

Another apt reply, another rant:

I agree, welfare should go. Let’s get rid of the tax havens for the wealthy, like “commercial” vehicles they’ve written off as business expense yet use as a private car. ( Just take a drive through any bar parking lot on the weekend. Sure are a lot of commercial plates and trucks with the names of businesses on the side. )

I disagree. Society should take care of those unable to fend for themselves. Additionally, some social causes (like college loans or encouraging capital accumulation) may have a positive return on investment, others (tsunami aid) help our strategic interests, and others (space exploration, farm subsidies) have more sentimental aims.

Do I agree with every form of welfare for every recipient? No, but it’s still the right thing for us to do.

Let’s stop paying for liver transplants for alcoholics and gastric bypass surgery for the obese.

The former sounds wiser than the latter. Every liver given to an alcoholic is one that cannot be given to someone else. Additionally, gastric bypasses are much cheaper and (by shrinking the stomach) directly encourage healthier behavior.

A bit later…

Yes, let’s limit healthcare costs, perhaps by heavier legislation against health insurance companies and malpractice insurance companies.

I’d rather not kill patients by discouraging medicine in the process.

How about private savings to allay the cost of procedures?

The problem may be too structural. Before 1980 there was no correlation between health care spending and increased life expectency. Given the hundreds of thousands medicine kills every where, we have an immensely sick system with two bright lights (prescription drugs and assembly line surgeries) some dim bulbs (miscellaneous operations) and incredible black holes (malpractice by all parties, governmental failures).

It’s not fair for me to pay in on every paycheck for something I don’t use, only to have them raise my rates the first time I do. I’d be happy to put money into an account month after month that when it reaches a certain amount, say $5k, I can quit knowing that anything that might *likely* befall me won’t cost that much. However, let’s not cap the amount of money insurance will pay. Katie got in a car accident. Her insurance refuses to pay for another cent of her treatment for spinal and shoulder injuries, though her affliction remains. I promise the amount of money her family has paid into insurance over the past 20 years has made more than enough to cover her ongoing treatment. Yeah, I know insurance is a business, but let’s cut some of the fat. I can imagine a doctor botching a heart transplant, and having the family of the deceased be told “sorry, we only pay $20,000 for a heart transplant… can you speak with the doctor? oh no, sorry, he went golfing about 10 minutes after your husband died.”

That’s a terrible problem. We have a terrible system.

Medicare spends a quarter of a trillion dollars every year. About 30% of that, or $75 billion is psend in the last year of life of a patient. About 40% of that, or $30 billion is spent in the last thirty days.

That’s a lot of money that’s being gobbled up. And that sort of waste is not isolated. My point isn’t to argue against old-age medicine — it’s to say we have a terribly, terribly messed-up system that neither candidate would fix. Welfare schemes — from support for heroic medicine to the stranglehold of the AMA and ABA guilds to people using civil lawsuits for justice and not remedy to price controls to price supports — stall badly needed fixes.

Let’s do something so that corporations aren’t so beholden to their stock price. How many companies are doing just fine but find themselves cutting corners or laying off people to boost Wall Street estimates? Forcing companies to rate a “strong buy” quarter after quarter makes some profitable companies do things they don’t need to do, and possibly take unnecessary risks (think Animation Factory… double sales every year? why? is everyone getting paid? is there money left on the table at the end of the month? why feel the need to double that amount just to be considered viable? )

Instead of giving more welfare to employees and management, I’d rather make corporations more beholden to their stock price. Upper management in almost any major company routinely betrays investors and padds their own pockets. Why are CEOs paid so much? Even when they perform badly? Too many high-paying jobs are protected from market discipline.

(In the AF example cited, the parent company has sustained rounds of lay-offs and is in terrible financial straights. Bankruptcy would ruin employees and investors, and put upper-management out of work.)

Let’s stop spending ourselves into oblivion.

Agreed.

Let’s stop starting wars where wars aren’t properly planned for.

And let’s never “plan properly” until its too late. Let’s horrify our enemies worse than they scared us. Let’s never allow them to breathe.

Let’s look into some alternative energy, rather than a limp-wristed acknowledgement, perhaps by a President whose circle of friends’ livelihoods aren’t tied into oil prices?

Agreed. One of Bush’s great failures is not dramatically expanding nuclear energy.

Let’s invest some money into research that will benefit our country, rather than the create a cash cow for the discovering organization.

Let’s not discourage discovery. And let new discoveries ever increase the general welfare.

Maybe huge tax breaks or some other perk for private research firms who don’t put a firm lock and chain on any advancement?

Good idea!

Let’s start making a difference for people who need a difference made. I now make more money than both my parents do combined. I have investments. I’m one of those people who are benefitting from some of the breaks for the wealthy. And I don’t like it.”

Let’s encourage giving!

Homosexuality (only for the trivia)

I thought I would just make 3 unfounded points with a rainbow (no irony intended) summary point at the end, but I found I had too much to say,” by “Aaron,” tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/10/denormalization.html, 11 January 2005.

Free from the constraints of the practical, I give a rambling reply to Aaron’s well-thought-out post.

“I thought I would just make 3 unfounded points with a rainbow (no irony intended) summary point at the end, but I found I had too much to say.

1. Few people have ever chosen to be gay.
– A number would like not to be, I’m sure, but usually from societal pressure. Much like you can’t force yourself to be attracted to a man, homosexuals cannot force themselves to be “normal” and be attracted to a woman. I challenge you to find me evidence to the contrary, and the Cato Institute and National Review don’t count. I’ve read accounts of the anguish faced by homosexuals who are attempting to “normalize” themselves, whether through counseling or faith. The Mormons will even find you a wife to help you get back to being “normal.” A fair number of these accounts end with suicide. Homosexuality is not a choice. The anguish caused by homosexuality is the fault of intolerant society. Substitute “black” or “mentally disabled” or “short” into your arguments and hear how disgusting you sound.

I agree that few males have chosen to be homosexual. As far as I know National Review has never published an articles to the contrary, and CATO’s socially libertarianism would make them unlikely to pursue one. Likewise, few people have chosen not to be homosexual.

Homosexual anguish has several causes. Social incompatibility is not the least among them, but others are clear too. All-male circles have less impulse-control than all-female or mixed circles. So male homosexuals can be expected to engage in more actions with less forethought than others. Related to this is their status as disease vectors. In other words, dumb decisions makes death makes people sad.

“Black” cannot be substituted because blackness does not determine behavior.

“Mentally disabled” is a status of injury. Mental disability overwhelmingly affects behavior. It is an extremely wide category, but its fair to say that a good portion of the anguish the mentally disabled, or any disabled, feel is because they are disabled. That is, because of real concrete disabilities that prevent them from pursuing their dreams.

“Short” is ambiguous. Midgets clearly are physically disabled, while the shorter-than-average or just shorter-than-average.

So to substitute with the sentence, “Homosexuality shall be eliminated”

Substituting “blacks” makes the sentence bizarre and implies genocide or at the very least vast biological interference. Substituting “mentally disability” makes the sentence hopeful — if all the sick were cured, and illness became preventable, we would live in a happier world. Substituting “shortness” is just weird.

2. Homosexuality is optional for a society.
– For a society perhaps, but not for an individual. However, there are other entirely optional things to society that I don’t see you rallying against. Let me list them:
– Biased news.
– Alcohol.
– Faith (even if it’s only for the trivia).

I agree that a homosexual individual would be hard-pressed to call his status “optional.” But more importantly…

Biased news and propoganda have existed in every society ever. Even if objectivity were possible, there are real society forces that warp news to make it pleasing to certain powers. No society has ever escaped this. This is as good as “proof” that biased news will always exist as is possible.

Alcohol is one of many drugs. Perhaps knowledge of fermentation can be supressed. But what society has been free of artificial stimulation? From alcohol to tobacco to marijuana to opium to incense stimulants worm there way in.

Faith comes from a Greek word that means “trust.” In Modern English it means “Faith in a higher order.” Whether God, the laws of nature, or History, faith seems inescapable.

When I say “homosexuality is optional” I do not mean “homosexuality can be expunged to create a virtuous society.” I mean “homosexuality has not existed in the vast majority of societies in human history.” Which leads to…

3. Gays have been persecuted a great deal throughout history. It’s not passed on as a genetic trait (that I’ve seen proven, anywhere). Natural selection should have taken care of it by now if it were. Again, few people have chosen to be gay and a large number would rather they weren’t.

It seems likely that some combination of genetics and socialization leads to homosexuality. I have no evidence — it just sounds right. But more substantively…

Gays have not been persecuted a great deal throughout history. If they were, we would see the ordinances of persecution. We would see somewhere the prohibitions. We would see something better than the weird, oddly-worded, and shellfish-strewn wreckages in Leviticus.

This is what I meant by “homosexuality is optional.” That it mostly does not exist.

Later, abbreviating some…

Heterosexuals spread disease as easily as homosexuals. The stigma that they’re carriers for HIV/AIDs is a holdover from the 80s, when the disease was misunderstood. The same measure of protection a heterosexual takes can prevent a homosexual from catching / spreading disease. Statistics might support your arguments,

Ok. So what I write is not a relic from the 1980s. Its statistics. The better AIDS is understood, the more the impact of homosexuals as vectors is known. One can argue that this classification is unfair, but its a conclusion that comes from the facts.

but they’d also support the following statements: blacks are criminals, young people are bad drivers, the Pope is Catholic.

If you correct for income, population size, and single-parenting, do you see more black criminals than white criminals? No. Because race does not change behavior.

If you correct for income, population size, and single-parenting, do you see more young bad drivers than middle aged bad drivers? Of course. Because young people have less impulse control and less fear than middle aged drivers. Youth is always everywhere a time of less control.

Statistics show post-correction differences between youth and non-youth and homosexuals and non-homosexuals because those categories matter. Such differences dissappear for blacks because race does not.

There are those that glorify the lifestyle and seek attention and perhaps some are driven to it by an out of control libido. For them, homosexuality may be a choice. But for the young man who hides something he cannot control, who fears persecution from an intolerant family and society, who tries to find solace in therapy or faith, only to be let down, I think the “opportunity cost” of homosexuality should have driven him to normalcy by now. So why did he kill himself rather than get married, raise 2.5 children, and buy a little white house out in the suburbs?”

Homosexuality, like first language, seems to be determined in childhood. The purpose of denormalization is prevention, not cure.