Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quid Pro Quo ala Jane Harman.

From CQ:

"""""Justice Department attorneys in the intelligence and public corruption units who read the transcripts decided that Harman had committed a crime, according to the national security and law enforcement sources.

The Justice Department attorneys were prepared to pursue a case against Harman, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court, the secret panel established by the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to hear government wiretap requests. First, however, they needed the certification of top intelligence officials that Harman’s wiretapped conversations justified a national security investigation.

Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application, two sources said. He also decided that, under a protocol involving the separation of powers, it was time to notify then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Pelosi of the FBI’s impending national security investigation of a member of Congress — to wit, Harman.

Goss, a former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, deemed the matter particularly urgent because of the high rank of Harman, a Democrat, on the Intelligence panel.

But according to the two former national security officials, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the Times. Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program."""""

Miss Harman obviously had no problem working alongside the sinister AG Gonzales. Gonzo apparently valued Harman for her support of BushCo's plans for FISA/NSA Snitch-Tech--then most Demos agreed to that, a point KOS-zombies simply cannot grasp--and yet the Feds used the J-Edgar surveillance gear itself to catch Harman during one of her hush-hush chit-chats with an Israeli/AIPAC spy. Also note that the DOJ claimed a serious crime went down (as have even the muckraker-lites of TPM and a few moderate Dem sites), and decided to squelch, since Harman, like her soul-sistah Feinstein, generally followed the GOP partay-line. The evidence suggests KGB-like duplicity and deceit on the part of Harman, and yet the DOJ bagged the case--at least for now (as have the KOS-zombies and usual liberal blogocrats).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Justice Sotomayor--Business as usual


......."""""The shock jock right-wing radio commentators furiously quote Sotomayor’s remark in a speech in Berkeley in 2001 that “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.” Sotomayor also took a direct potshot at WASP eugenicist hero, Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.”

The right is trying to claim that Sotomayor is a reverse racist, but this, like almost everything the right says these days, this is not gaining any traction with the general population, though CNN is giving it relentless play. What the right can’t do is claim that Sotomayor is any sort of radical. She’s not. Her decisions have generally been pro-business and she owes her career on the federal bench to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who nominated her to the Appeals Court. Moynihan was of Irish descent, but he famously adhered to the WASP belief that an inherent “pathology” disfigured the black family in America....."""""

Ms. Sotomayor's Berkeley PC-rant--about as radical as Oprah show chitchat--needn't trouble us overly much. Her pro-business views and bureaucratic federalism, however, should be noted. Sotomayor's historic placement, like Obama's, may please Bovinecrats some sentimental liberals, yet the racial factors should not prevent an objective assessment of her specific decisions, which have tended to uphold moderate, centrist views.

Alexi Cockburn also raised a few interesting points regarding the Judicial business. Americans have for years been indoctrinated with the greatness of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Justice Cardozo and other supposed geniuses of the SCOTUS. The facts show otherwise. Holmes, like many a WASP intellectual of 19th and early 20th century--including Winston Churchill-- supported the eugenics movement. His decisions themselves tended to be extremely conservative. Yet few history texts, or text-enforcers (aka history professors) have presented Holmes or his jewish colleague Cardozo as one of the villains of US or world History. (that said, Holmes did at times, lend some support to the Boston sort of progressivism)

Instead of discussing some Holmes dicta--some of which resembles something Himmler might have barked--the usual liberal pedagogue focuses on the obvious: slavery, hypocrisy of Jefferson and Co, the Confederacy, poor treatment of natives, etc. (though US/Native America history not really popular either. How many Americans know of say the Bear River Massacre? The LDS and WASPs working together to rape and murder). A Holmes arguably had more impact on recent history than the hypocrites of the American Rev. did, yet the corrupt judicial noble--especially the yankee sort-- simply does not register in the 'Merican mind as Hannibal Lector-material.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Black Robe Posse kix, continued

One Susan Kennedy:

""""It just so happens that my congressional district is "served" by one totally useless turd named Howard Berman, who just happens to warm a seat (currently the Vice Chair) on the House Judiciary Committee. What better person to ask how federal judges are vetted for legibility and how this could happen?

I wrote a letter dated April, 2003. This was a polite request to Berman asking basically how judges are vetted and stating that my curiosity was piqued by my discovery of the two brothers sitting on the 8th Circuit bench. I cited the specific federal statute forbidding consanguinity on a federal bench.

It is now six years later, and I haven't even received the customary form letter that "our office is looking into it" or "our office referred it to the appropriate department"! Of course, Howard Berman has his own conflict-of- interest issues. After the census of 2000, in preparation for the constitutionally mandated redistricting that follows, Berman managed to get an appointment for one Michael Berman --- his brother --- to the commission that draws the district boundary lines.

As of result of Berman's nepotism, his district is so safe the Republicans couldn't even find one candidate to run against Berman in the 2008 primary. Unless some drastic changes are made after the 2010 census, we'll be stuck with this useless piece of crud until he dies in office.

As for the 8th CA, that problem was solved in 2004 when Richard Arnold died - as reported in the LA Daily Journal of the day. His brother, however, is still a senior circuit judge on the 8th Circuit bench.

If this is typical of the way judges (and candidates --- right up to the White House) are vetted for eligibility, then it is clear that those tasked to do so are not doing their jobs. And if virtually anonymous clerks are allowed to dispose of cases, particularly impeachment cases, then any hope for accountability is lost . . . .

Unless we can anger enough people that we can overcome an equal level of corruption in vote counting and pass some measure that puts accountability back into the hands of the people, such as JAIL4Judges!


The contemporary corporate media--KouricCO--tends to present any contra-judicial thinking as the work of hick libertarians or the dreaded "populist". That is unfortunate. The authentic progressive always opposes the judicial bureaucracy, notwithstanding a few somewhat progressive or anti-corporate decisions from the Black Robe posse. With the rise of the suburban "liberal" (not that closely related to the Democrat ala Truman or Woodrow Wilson), the image of the judiciary has been transformed--"spun"--: no longer stuffy, pompous latin-quoting solons, they are now considered the very bastion of civil liberties, regardless of the last few decades of conservative, if not very conservative justices--the Rehnquist Era. Those Californians who opposed the rabbling rousing, pro-8 herd (which Contingencies did (capiche, Calibanius?)) might reflect on the role of the CA judges, supposedly "liberal", who allowed Prop 8 on the ballot; prima facie, 8 appears to violate the Separation Clause, but that rarely stops the judiciary, whether at local, state or national level. The SCOTUS itself currently features at least five theocrats a bit to the right of Mussolini (Il Duce himself did not always bless the papacy --or capitalism--across the board)--and the new nominee--Sotomayor--apart from a few token liberal decisions, appears to be another Obama centrist.

Historically, one of the first orders of business of revolutionary Republicans (as in Res Publica, republicanos, IRA, etc. NOT American republicans) was to depose of the magistrates and court, along with the nobles, the clergy and king. That defines not only the jacobins' modus operandi--magistrates part of 2nd estate--or the bolsheviks, but the yankee revolutionaries as well (and arguably English ala Cromwell as well). Jefferson had issues--as did his mentor Locke--but like Locke, he never forgot the centuries of tyranny characterizing the anglo Inns of Court or European clerical courts. Locke had no love for monarchy, or magistrates:

"It cannot be supposed that they should intend, had they a power so to do, to give any one or more an absolute arbitrary power over their persons and estates, and put a force into the magistrate's hand to execute his unlimited will arbitrarily upon them; this were to put themselves into a worse condition than the state of Nature, wherein they had a liberty to defend their right against the injuries of others, and were upon equal terms of force to maintain it, whether invaded by a single man or many in combination.""

Jefferson understood the meaning of this, and even the potential problems, arguably. TJ struggled for years against the tory-Federalist Hamilton and Hamilton's hatchet man Marshall, who more or less singlehandedly transferred the English common law and the standing court (ie the King-law) to the new Republic, and in effect cut off the balls denied the power of the Congress from the start.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Torture: a Reconsideration

Sam Harris/In-Defense-of-Torture):

""""Most readers will undoubtedly feel at this point that torture is evil and that we are wise not to practice it. Even if we can’t quite muster a retort to the ticking bomb case, most of us take refuge in the fact that the paradigmatic case will almost never arise. It seems, however, that this position is impossible to square with our willingness to wage modern war in the first place.
In modern warfare, “collateral damage”—the maiming and killing innocent noncombatants—is unavoidable. And it will remain unavoidable for the foreseeable future. Collateral damage would be a problem even if our bombs were far “smarter” than they are now. It would also be a problem even if we resolved to fight only defensive wars. There is no escaping the fact that whenever we drop bombs, we drop them with the knowledge that some number of children will be blinded, disemboweled, paralyzed, orphaned, and killed by them.

The only way to rule out collateral damage would be to refuse to fight wars under any circumstances. As a foreign policy, this would leave us with something like the absolute pacifism of Gandhi. While pacifism in this form can constitute a direct confrontation with injustice (and requires considerable bravery), it is only applicable to a limited range of human conflicts. Where it is not applicable, it is seems flagrantly immoral. We would do well to reflect on Gandhi’s remedy for the Holocaust: he believed that the Jews should have committed mass suicide, because this “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.” We might wonder what a world full of pacifists would have done once it had grown “aroused”—commit suicide as well? There seems no question that if all the good people in the world adopted Gandhi’s ethics, the thugs would inherit the earth.

So we can now ask, if we are willing to act in a way that guarantees the misery and death of some considerable number of innocent children, why spare the rod with known terrorists? I find it genuinely bizarre that while the torture of Osama bin Laden himself could be expected to provoke convulsions of conscience among our leaders, the perfectly foreseeable (and therefore accepted) slaughter of children does not. What is the difference between pursuing a course of action where we run the risk of inadvertently subjecting some innocent men to torture, and pursuing one in which we will inadvertently kill far greater numbers of innocent men, women, and children? Rather, it seems obvious that the misapplication of torture should be far less troubling to us than collateral damage: there are, after all, no infants interned at Guantanamo Bay. Torture need not even impose a significant risk of death or permanent injury on its victims; while the collaterally damaged are, almost by definition, crippled or killed. The ethical divide that seems to be opening up here suggests that those who are willing to drop bombs might want to abduct the nearest and dearest of suspected terrorists—their wives, mothers, and daughters—and torture them as well, assuming anything profitable to our side might come of it. Admittedly, this would be a ghastly result to have reached by logical argument, and we will want to find some way of escaping it. But there seems no question that accidentally torturing an innocent man is better than accidentally blowing him and his children to bits.

In this context, we should note that many variables influence our feelings about an act of physical violence. The philosopher Jonathan Glover points out that “in modern war, what is most shocking is a poor guide to what is most harmful.” To learn that one’s grandfather flew a bombing mission over Dresden in the Second World War is one thing; to hear that he killed five little girls and their mother with a shovel is another. We can be sure that he would have killed many more women and girls by dropping bombs from pristine heights, and they are likely to have died equally horrible deaths, but his culpability would not appear the same. There is much to be said about the disparity here, but the relevance to the ethics of torture should be obvious. If you think that the equivalence between torture and collateral damage does not hold, because torture is up close and personal while stray bombs aren’t, you stand convicted of a failure of imagination on at least two counts: first, a moment’s reflection on the horrors that must have been visited upon innocent Afghanis and Iraqis by our bombs will reveal that they are on par with those of any dungeon. If our intuition about the wrongness of torture is born of an aversion to how people generally behave while being tortured, we should note that this particular infelicity could be circumvented pharmacologically, because paralytic drugs make it unnecessary for screaming ever to be heard or writhing seen. We could easily devise methods of torture that would render a torturer as blind to the plight of his victims as a bomber pilot is at thirty thousand feet. Consequently, our natural aversion to the sights and sounds of the dungeon provide no foothold for those who would argue against the use of torture.

To demonstrate just how abstract the torments of the tortured can be made to seem, we need only imagine an ideal “torture pill”—a drug that would deliver both the instruments of torture and the instrument of their concealment. The action of the pill would be to produce transitory paralysis and transitory misery of a kind that no human being would willingly submit to a second time. Imagine how we torturers would feel if, after giving this pill to captive terrorists, each lay down for what appeared to be an hour’s nap only to arise and immediately confess everything he knows about the workings of his organization. Might we not be tempted to call it a “truth pill” in the end? No, there is no ethical difference to be found in how the suffering of the tortured or the collaterally damaged appears.""""""
Harris raises a legitimate point about proximity, and the argument for some limited uses of torture in extreme situations should be considered. Collateral damage due to torture is no different than collateral damage due to bombs, invasions, battles, so forth, and Justice would most likely be better served by torturing a few POWs in situations where that torture could prevent the deaths of thousands of innocents by bombs, invasions, battles, etc.--that is, assuming that torture “works”, and that the testimony produced is reliable (an issue which Harris doesn’t really address in much depth).

Harris’ essay was a topic for a few months, but his secular pragmatism did not produce much of an effect on the fratboy moralists and the PC soccer mommies who make up the ranks of the big DNCocrat sites like KOS, Salon, DU, CT, so forth, and who routinely overlook the fact that most leading Demos, like DiDI Feinstein, signed off on the same enhanced interrogation techniques the GOP yokels agreed to. They’re still invoking their righteous indignation over torture, 24/7 and still forgetting that their Demo heroes all waved the flags along with the GOP until about 2005, when it appeared the herd no longer backed the IWE.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Trustbusting Google

Rumors abound regarding the Obama Administration’s new chief antitrust enforcer, Christine Varney, who appears ready to file anti-trust against Eric Schmidt and GoogleCo:

"""Google’s corporate behavior is already being closely monitored. Last year, Google abandoned a planned search advertising partnership with Yahoo after the Justice Department said it intended to file suit to block the agreement on antitrust grounds. Google has 64 percent of the Web search market in America, while Yahoo has 21 percent and Microsoft 8 percent, according to comScore, a research firm.

In recent weeks, antitrust officials have opened two inquiries. The Justice Department is looking into Google’s settlement with authors and publishers for its book-search service to see if it violates antitrust laws. And the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google’s sharing two board members with Apple reduces competition, because both companies offer Web browsers and phone operating systems.

Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said this month that the close scrutiny was not surprising. “Information is incredibly important, and we should expect governments around the world to pay attention to what we do,” he said.

Google’s power is a cause of worry in many industries — media, advertising, telecommunications and software. Yet being large, successful and ambitious is not an antitrust violation. “You’ve got to be big, and you have to be bad,” observed Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University. “You have to be both.”

Google corporation certainly rates as sufficiently Big and Bad (as does yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, HP, et al). Eric Schmidt, the JP Morgan of the search engine biz, "works" as CEO of Google AND as one of Apple’s Board of Oligarchs Directors. Most of the online scuttlebutt specialists (i.e. the usual academic economists advising against it) claim it won’t go. The Clayton Act-–passed under Woody Wilson I believe, and quite a progressive piece of legislation–-supposedly prevents execs from sitting on BODs of multiple companies, yet be assured Google has some ueber-attorneys who will weasel out of it, assuming Miss Varney or whoever decides to push the issue.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Der Luegen-Geist

"Buddy Holly": """"The US before WWII was 95% anti-Semitic, and just barely beginning to reject the KKK.""""

Du bist voll von scheisse. Sie habe für FDR und "New Deal", und FDR war Freunde mit den Juden.

Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft,

des Menschen allerhöchste Kraft,

laß nur in Blend- und Zauberwerken

dich von dem Lügengeist bestärken,

so hab' ich dich schon unbedingt.

(from Faust)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beware the Hate Crimes Bill.

Paul Craig Roberts/Counterpunch:

""""Since the passage of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act in 2004, the US Department of State is required to monitor anti-semitism world wide. The State Department is not required to monitor anti-Americanism or sentiments against Christians, Muslims or Arabs. Thus, the act created a specially protected class worthy of careful monitoring by the US Department of State of negative sentiments expressed against Jews.

In order to monitor anti-semitism, the term must be defined. The definition is subjective and will be widely, rather than narrowly, interpreted. The State Department has come up with its attempt. The State Department’s approach could include any truthful statements about Israel and its behavior toward the Palestinians that the Israeli government or AIPAC or the Anti-Defamation League would deny or contest.

Anti-semitic speech can be interpreted as inciting hatred. Inciting hatred can be interpreted to be a violent act. “Excessive” criticism of Israel is a subjective, undefinable concept that can be used to determine anti-semitic speech. It is easy to conflate “excessive” with “strong.” Thus, demands that Israel be held accountable for war crimes committed in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, or elsewhere become acts of the hate crime of anti-semitism."""""

The type of PC-language-paranoia embodied by the GASRA has been on the increase. Reasonable humans should object to racial epithets of all types--including subtle regional ones--ah to be expected--he's from Texas..etc--yet words, even ugly insulting and obscene words, do not bring about bodily harm, and are not literally weapons. In some circumstances, such as the shouting fire in a theatre cliche, trash talkers in bars, or outright threats, speech might be dangerous, may even incite hatred, though establishing the specifics of that hatred-inciting process seems about as subjective as any decision made by the geniuses of the Black Robe posse.

Mere epithets, however, do not equate to a pistol pointed to the head, much less the pistol fired. Making a joke about a Kissinger or Elliot Abrams or DiDi Feinstein does not imply that one has put Mein Kampf to memory. Zappa singing Jewish Princess-- with titanic titz and sand-blasted zits--did not mean to deny the reality of Dachau, I don't think. The big liberal sites--DailyKOS, Salon, DU, Fray--also engage in the PC-speech enforcement, and those who step out of line are troll-rated, banned, given the roadkill recipe.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


""""In the sphere of philosophy revisionism followed in the wake of bourgeois professorial “science”. The professors went “back to Kant"—and revisionism dragged along after the neo-Kantians. The professors repeated the platitudes that priests have uttered a thousand times against philosophical materialism—and the revisionists, smiling indulgently, mumbled (word for word after the latest Handbuch) that materialism had been “refuted” long ago. The professors treated Hegel as a “dead dog”,[2] and while themselves preaching idealism, only an idealism a thousand times more petty and banal than Hegel’s, contemptuously shrugged their shoulders at dialectics—and the revisionists floundered after them into the swamp of philosophical vulgarisation of science, replacing “artful” (and revolutionary) dialectics by “simple" (and tranquil) “evolution”. The professors earned their official salaries by adjusting both their idealist and their “critical” systems to the dominant medieval “philosophy” (i.e., to theology)—and the revisionists drew close to them, trying to make religion a “private affair”, not in relation to the modern state, but in relation to the party of the advanced class."""


We have no love for VI Lenin and bolsheviki, but VIL described the philosophical situation of his time fairly accurately (and dare we say Kultur situation); and indeed his remarks still seem applicable to the postmodernists (including Zizek, who praises idealisms of various sorts, including the psychoanalytical sort, ad nauseum), to the rise of religious fundamentalism, and even to a certain type of liberal mysticism which follows the latest pronouncements of the "professiorial class", say the Swineford Physics Department, regarding "possible/alternative worlds". In his contempt for the professoriat, VIL's quite close to Marx's own thinking. At the same time marxist dialectical materialism should not be mistaken for Darwinism as a political model; however ugly, nauseating, or terrifying the average 'Merican might find marxism, humans are still human --not merely the Darwinian primate*--and allowed to think, plan, create as they obtain their economic and biological necessaries. It's make friends with your inner Bolshevik day here on Contingencies!

(*though evolution does hold, and Darwinists performed a service to humanity in terms of revising the dogma of monotheism. Marx himself in fact praised Darwin, at least initially (and for that matter, quoted Hume once in a while, generally not in agreement, but acknowledging his influence). As a psychological model for humans, however, Darwinian determinism has shortcomings, and has been put to nefarious uses by "social darwinists." ).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009



""""It’s expensive running an ever-expanding gulag. State after state is finding that herding the dangerous classes into prison with tools such as the Rockefeller drug laws and throwing away the key for decades or forever by nonnegotiable mandatory minimum sentencing costs too much. But then there’s a problem: what to do about the prison unions and the towns (like many in New York) that survive economically only because of prison jobs, where the prison population is greater than the population of free people, and the free people love it because, apart from the jobs keeping their kids from fleeing the post-industrial or post-ag wasteland, the prisoners count in the census, giving these towns and regions more representation in statehouses, hence more political power, than they deserve.

Shades of Gogol, who was born 200 years ago this year. The motor of his great novel is the economic use of “dead souls”—deceased serfs listed by the state as assets of the landlords. The novel’s central character, Chichikov, goes around buying them up. New York State could take Gogol’s hint and start auctioning its “living dead” as income generators to other states in need. Looking at our criminal justice system here, Gogol would surely use the line carved on his gravestone: “And I shall laugh my bitter laugh.”"""

Better than another episode of Star Trek, Police academy-in-space (Sarge Roddenberry, ex LAPD, founder)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hume, cont.

Fred Wilson:

""""Given Hume’s general argument against objective necessary connections, there is no logical necessity attaching to any causal judgement; it is always possible that events will be contrary to any causal law. The human mind can therefore never achieve the level of absolute certainty that Cartesians and Aristotelians demand; all causal judgments are fallible. This amounts to scepticism provided that one thinks that such standards as those of the Cartesian are reasonable. However, given the argument against objective necessities, and therefore against the possibility of absolute certainty, it is not reasonable, Hume holds, to
adopt the Cartesian standard. Hence, given the Humean argument his position
cannot reasonably be characterized as sceptical.

This means in particular that Hume’s pragmatic justification or vindication of the norms of empirical science as the defining standards of human reason is itself empirical and fallible. This does not imply, however, that Hume is a sceptic about science or about causal inferen- ces. For, if a sceptic is one who holds that no causal judgement is ever reasonable or that all are equally reasonable, then Hume is no sceptic. Now, the basic evidence for a causal judgement that all A’s are B’s is
the fact that all observed A’s are Bs. Often enough, however, we observe a
certain contrariety in effects; that is, A’s are sometimes followed by B s and
sometimes by C’s.2’ We do not in such cases, at least we do not if we are
philosophers, simply conclude that there is no causality here, that here it is
chance and not causation that is opera-tive. Rather, we infer that there is a
hitherto unknown factor, call it D*, such that an A is B just in case that it is
D* and is C just in case that it is not D*. We make this inference on the basis
of our past successes in discovering previously unknown causal factors which can explain the contrariety of events. The vulgar, of curse, often do explain by appeal to chance the observed contrariety of effects; to use Hume's example, that my watch sometimes does not work properly is due to chance. But to the artisan such an explanation will not do: he knows better. What stops the watch is not chance but a hidden - unknown but not unknowable cause -for example, a speck of dust?' Science, or what is the same for Hume, philosophy, has systematically extended the watchmaker's experience to many other cases, and has been systematically successful in discovering causes for contrary ef-fects. It is just this fact of experience,
that science has been successful in discovering causes, that leads us to affirm
the proposition, the law about laws to use Mill's phrase:' that for every event
there is a cause, that is, the proposition that for every event there is a
causal law under which it can be subsumed..."

(the naive sunday schooler reads a few sentences about Hume and skepticism, and thinks the old reprobate denied knowledge via experience, induction, probability, if not science itself. Nyet. As Wilson notes, Hume is not a ultra-skeptic, except in the sense that he points out that causal "laws" are matters of habit and observation, not necessary or axiomatic (that said, I might agree with mechanists that Hume overstated the case for subjectivity, as did the early Popper). Newtonian mechanics were thought absolute, until Einstein arrived. That said, Hume does provide fairly convincing arguments why miracles should not be accepted as legitimate--the uniformity of experience precludes people rising from the dead, or jezebels riding on the back of 10 headed beasts--and a fortiori, why scripture has no authority...While perhaps not quite a Newton, Hume served human liberty.

Even some cheese-eating surrender monkeys french postmodernists, like Deleuze, have expressed an admiration for Hume:

""Deleuze insists that one of Hume's greatest contributions to modern philosophy is his insistence that all relations are external to their terms: this is the essence of Hume's anti-transcendental stance. Human nature cannot unite itself, there is no 'I' which stands before experience, but only moments of experience themselves, unattached and meaningless without any necessary relation to each other. A flash of red, a movement, a gust of wind, these elements must be externally related to each other to create the sensation of a tree in autumn. In the social world, this externality attests to the always-already interested nature of life: no relation is necessary, or governed by neutral laws, so every relation has a localised and passional motive. The ways in which habits are formed attests to the desires at the heart of our social milieu."""""

Contingencies also notes a rather unsettling, anti-essentialist aspect to Hume-- psychological, perhaps, rather than logical. Deleuze's writing also should be considered a type of conceptual psychology, and not philosophy per se--a point overlooked by the PoMo bashers (CS Peirce had claimed Hume as an early pragmatist). Reality is ostensive; knowledge is ostensive. Wittgenstein himself had read Hume, and understands Ostension (Deleuze however referred to Wittgenstein as an assassin of philosophy, or something).

There is a fourth planet-object. Westerners call it "Mars," after Ares.. Egyptians referred to it as eye of Horus. Hindus called it something else. The Mars-object could be named, Sram, or anything, really. Like other planets, Mars follows an elliptical orbit. That's not likely to change, at least until the sun explodes (you think I jest? read the guesstimates of "experts"regarding solaric activity). Hume, however, would remind us that the supposed "laws" of elliptical orbits--or solar physics--while for all intensive purposes permanent (at least they appear so to mere mortals), are themselves not necessary.

There are no comforting, stable eternal truths, whether in terms of human experience, religion, science, or politics, yet the "process" for Hume--or Deleuze, presumably--lacks the mystical or heroic aspects ala Hegel. In that sense, Hume does seem akin to the ancient stoics, who also concerned themselves with chance, fortune, the fates, and hardening themselves against ....Contingencies.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

From Boswell's The Life of Johnson

"""""I mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that David Hume's persisting in his infidelity, when he was dying, shocked me much. JOHNSON. "Why should it shock you, Sir? Hume owned he had never read the New Testament with attention. Here then was a man who had been at no pains to enquire into the truth of religion, and had continually turned his mind the other way. It was not to be expected that the prospect of death would alter his way of thinking, unless GOD should send an angel to set him right." I said, I had reason to believe that the thought of annihilation gave Hume no pain. JOHNSON. "It was not so, Sir. He had a vanity in being thought easy. It is more probable that he should assume an appearance of ease, than so very improbable a thing should be, as a man not afraid of going (as, in spite of his delusive theory, he cannot be sure but he may go), into an unknown state, and not being uneasy at leaving all he knew. And you are to consider, that upon his own principle of annihilation he had no motive to speak the truth." The horrour of death, which I had always observed in Dr. Johnson, appeared strong to-night. I ventured to tell him, that I had been, for moments in my life, not afraid of death; therefore I could suppose another man in that state of mind for a considerable space of time. He said, "he never had a moment in which death was not terrible to him." He added, that it had been observed, that scarce any man dies in publick, but with apparent resolution from that desire of praise which never quits us. I said, Dr. Dodd seemed to be willing to die, and full of hopes of happiness. "Sir, (said he,) Dr. Dodd would have given both his hands and both his legs to have lived. The better a man is, the more afraid is he of death, having a clearer view of infinite purity." He owned, that our being in an unhappy uncertainty as to our salvation, was mysterious; and said, "Ah! we must wait till we are in another state of being, to have many things explained to us." Even the powerful mind of Johnson seemed foiled by futurity. But I thought, that the gloom of uncertainty in solemn religious speculation, being mingled with hope, was yet more consolatory than the emptiness of infidelity. A man can live in thick air, but perishes in an exhausted receiver.""""""

Which is to say, the real test of faith--or ~(faith)--starts on one's deathbed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine-flu Hysteria 101

"""Clearly the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic is nothing to sneeze at but I think it’s also clear that the 24 hour news and even the CDC - perhaps practicing for a real threat -have hyped this event out of proportion to the real threat. If that’s because the threat really, really cannot be known I supposed it’s fine, but if it’s because this type of thing keeps people focused in ways that are profitable to TV News or grant and funding producing for CDC I hope we take a close look at all this when it’s over. Although epidemiologists are probably going to say “better safe than sorry” with Pandemic alerts it’s also true that overhyped events can lead to a lax future response from a public that becomes too used to “crying wolf” when the threat is actually quite low."""

Well-stated. Also note comment by one "horatiox" regarding vichy-liberal hispanic-bashing, a typical trait of the KOS/DU/Salon crowd generally, now brought out in living color by the flu alarmism. The Demo McMinutemen appear to be as excited as MittRomneyoids are at the prospect of shutting down the border and invading mexico, and/or banning pork products across the US.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

how Grosz (united front, ich denke)
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