Saturday, July 28, 2007

After finally breaking down and seeing "Jesus Camp"

People complain that the religious right is involved in politics, and the alliance between the fundamentalists and corporate America is nowhere more absurd than the fundamentalist rejection Global Warming. But the fundamentalists are involved in politics for religious reasons, and their behavior makes no sense as "politics".

Republican payback is expected on abortion and gay rights, and there are no issues that are less political. Politics is about helping your friends and hurting your enemies, so, by encouraging gay people to breed while denying liberals the right to terminate their pregnancies, a pro-choice anti-gay platform will only increase the number of gay liberals.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How to privatize welfare

This is an old idea -- maybe from an op-ed piece in the New York Times ten years ago, but I sure wish somebody would revise it for the campaign.

Take the full energy consumption of the United States. Divide that number by the population. Give every citizen in the country an electronic account that allows them to purchase the amount of energy used by an average citizen. Bundle these rights into contracts and trade them on financial exchanges. Reduce the total number every years.

What I love about this idea is that it basically taxes on the rich and wasteful while rewarding people who live energy conscientious lifestyles. A further benefit is that if people recieve money for something they are selling, they will respect that money more than if they get it as a hand-out. In a deep way, it encourages a sense of an ownership society, where the rich people are owned by the poor.


The commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence is a compelling argument for amending the constitution to limit Presidents to single terms. Libby's perjury smoothed Bush's reelection, and now, with the power won through Scooter's illegal actions, Bush has shielded Libby from the consequences of his flagrant disrespect of our legal process. The upshot is that there is too much at stake in a reelection campaign to expect contemporary degenerates to control themselves, so, given the current moral state of the elites produced by our civilization, it is unrealistic to expect responsibility from people with that much power. And, while we're at it, let's also get rid of Presidential pardons -- they short-circuit the tripartitite division of government, and make the Presidency too attractive a prize.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Taming of the true

My favorite reading of "The Taming of the Shrew" depicts it as a psychological study in which the restless, questioning mind only finds peace in absolute surrender. Katherine finds fault in everything, and her "taming" requires that she accept Petruchio's assertions that day is night and night is day. Modern audiences are appalled by Katherine's abject capitulation to gender roles, but, as it was originally staged, with men and youths, it was perhaps easier to see the play as a spiritual allegory than marital advice.

Working with Shakespeare's fundamental insight, I would argue that a spiritual guru's assertion of supernatural powers -- far from being an embarassing symptom of the narcissistic flooding that results from meditational techniques that pare away the barriers between the parts of the soul -- can sometimes be the "special sauce" that helps their followers. This is not to deny that the core psychological issue that drives people into the guru relationship is usually encouraged rather than diminished by belief in the guru's super-human powers: it is a wryly amusing paradox that people seek out gurus because they feel strangely superior to the bleating herd of humanity, and that rather than helping their followers find happiness by putting aside their isolating and unjustifiable condescension, the same medicine that cures their followers of their debilitating critical natures simultaneously exacerbates their insufferable exceptionalism. At the same time, there are always a few followers who manage to filter the good from the bad, and who are genuinely helped by the entire experience.