Sunday morning thoughts December 18, 2011

Good morning readers.  I’m obliged you came for a visit and read.

I’m going to start this morning by telling you something you ought to know already, but mightn’t:

Sometimes I take myself a lot more seriously than is justified by my history of being ‘right’ compared to my history of being ‘wrong’.  People who’ve known me forever are acutely aware of this.  The terms, ‘alarmist‘ and ‘melodramatic‘ have occasionally been used with brutal accuracy by people in a position to arrive at informed judgements.

Keep in mind I’m the guy who dumped a second career within a couple of years of being able to draw a hefty retirement check because I believed so thoroughly Y2K was going to happen, leading eventually to my current situation.  Keep in mind I also spent a lot of years climbing and unclimbing mountains searching for a lost gold mine I believed I’d find.

And keep in mind I don’t regret any of it.

So with all that in mind, I think those of you who read my ‘indefinite detention’ posts of the past few days would be well advised to examine other opinions, even though I still believe I’m generally right.  My believing it shouldn’t carry any weight for you.

Here’s another viewpoint offering up a mitigated set of possibilities regarding the same situation and the activities leading to it:

Addicting Info – The Knowledge You Crave

The NDAA Is A Horrible Bill, And Why Obama Is Going To Sign It
December 17, 2011 By Wendy Gittleson

If you’ve formed any opinions based on anything I’ve said here I think you owe it to yourself to read it.   Wendy Gittleson is certainly a lot more qualified to have an opinion than I am, most likely.  Even though I don’t necessarily agree.

Old Jules

40 responses to “Sunday morning thoughts December 18, 2011

  1. Thank You very much for posting this link. Valuable information. I just wish Obama would explain these things so we could all save ourselves a lot of misconceptions and anger. He’s just too reticent and unwilling to explain anything.

    • Teresa Evangeline: Good morning to you. I don’t have a clue what goes on inside the head of a president, though I sometimes think I do. I tend to be suspicious of them by virtue of the fact they wanted to be president badly enough to become president. Once there, the motives I associate with what they do are usually assumed by me to be the same ones that made them want to be prez. Glad you came by. Gracias, Jules

  2. I like to hear people talk about right and wrong as real things in the world. As anything normative i.e. ethics or projective science it is something that needs to be invented by projected norms. I don’t know what Obama’s reasoning is, probably to get a second term, but what use is a president if only to really squeeze legislation into 8 years of which only 4 or fewer are really used.

    • NealCormier: I don’t mind hearing people talk about right and wrong as real things in the world. I’d probably take it more seriously when they do if a more widespread perception of what they actually are was shared among human beings. Whatever the diameter of the circle of boundary a person draws around the concept of ‘normative’ and ‘projected norms’ defines what those norms are. For instance, ‘normative’ containing boundaries exclusively the Third Reich 1932-1945, allowed some behaviors by normal people that individuals outside those boundaries wouldn’t consider normal.

      I acknowledge your certainties and don’t doubt your sincerity in adopting them. I’m just not confident the boundaries you’ve drawn around right and wrong would be the same ones I’d have drawn, were I the one drawing them. Gracias, Jules

  3. Hey There Old Jules,
    I know I am supposed to be “unplugged” so I will make this brief. Below is an excerpt from chapter 12 of Summoning The Strength that sums up what I think about the topic of the “large and in charge.” I was thinking about this as I read your post this morning. Being a person who has had bouts of opinionitis followed by severe re-thinking, I believe it is a good idea to rest easy on the knowledge that you’ve earned the right to share what you believe to be true and let the chips fall where they may. People will agree or disagree but they cannot take what we have to say as a personal affront unless they know us personally.
    from Summoning The Strength – [Katherine returned to work. In her two month absence, the Foundation was bombarded with requests for a broad range of assistance. Atrocities related to substance abuse alone were too much for the obsolete government programs to handle. Public officials called for increased private initiatives to handle crisis intervention while the crooked bastards elected to do the people’s business satisfied their own self-interests. Throughout Katherine’s life, politicians repeatedly violated the public’s trust. This time they had given corporate foxes a key to the proverbial henhouse. Katherine didn’t have time to feel betrayed. She had a job to do and she had to dig deep for inspiration……Katherine usually coached herself but this time it was Claire’s voice she heard. “Recognize the small successes. The problems are systemic and the solutions change from day to day. There is great value in small successes. If perfection is your goal, you will always fall short. Give yourself a break. Benevolence begins with you.” Katherine missed her friend who always knew just what to say.]

  4. Oh and sorry, that WAS me being brief. (re-reading/over-thinking)

  5. Interesting post and a fun blog to visit. I’ll be back often and have become a subscriber. I appreciate your candidness and humor and look forward to reading lots more. Be well, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, just enjoy the days as they come and go.. 🙂

    • Thank you -Rick. I’m obliged for your visit and kind words. I wish you whatever manner of Christmas, Holiday, and days you wish on yourself while working diligently to make mine what I wish on myself. Even though in my case I’m not always certain what I’m wishing on myself. Gracias, Jules

  6. A few months ago we attended a funeral (not my dad’s funeral that I posted about today.) It was for a woman who died too young and unexpectedly of a heart attack while walking her dogs. The minister stood up and said that people were asking why this happened.

    To my surprise, for once I heard a minister say, “I don’t know why. None of us know why.” And he continued to talk about what we really don’t know. He didn’t give stupid answers like God needed another angel, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I don’t trust anyone who claims to have all the answers. I plan to attend that church again. And your honesty is why I’ll return to your blog. Another good post.

  7. it is time for a change, Obama promised change but it seems to be for the worse rather than better so who’s next?

    • Hi zendictive: You mightn’t be aware there’s a warehouse full of cardboard cutouts in Washington DC silkscreened with the images of potential candidates for that role. It’s the National Defense Stockpile of People With Potentially Convincing Answers. I’m thinking the next one might be John Wayne, though Vincent Price is a strong contender. Obliged for the visit. Jules

  8. Great post, Old Jules.

    I have but a fraction of your life experience, but share the same kind of confidence in the rightness of my own beliefs and values. When the whole world tells you you are wrong, it does not mean that you are, no matter what one’s history of having been right or wrong in the past is like. We are all free to choose what is important to us, and only through the purposeful act of choosing, we become more human, and society becomes possible.

    I share your concerns about both our declining freedoms in the world and the seeming lack of popular concern about this loss, but I must disagree when you seem to imply in an earlier comment that the boundaries of ethically accepted behaviour are connected to the amount of people who share ideas concerning said boundaries. It seems to me that this can definitely not be the case. For example, if the Third Reich had completed its conquest of Europe and managed to incite nazi revolutions in all the other countries of the world, their behaviour thereby becoming the global norm, would that have made their actions any less reprehensible? Personally I believe we need the (absolute) concept of individual rights in order for ethics to be a sensible concept at all

    But perhaps I misunderstood your point in the comment or read too much into it.

    • galudwig: Thanks for the read and for expressing your thoughts. I’m not looking at the posted comment you’re referring to, but I think what I intended to communicate was in response to the ‘normative’ and ‘projected norms’ mentioned within the comment. If we draw the circle of our boundaries small enough, I could have said, we’ll find people within them who adopt the precise sets of morals, ethics and convictions as our own. The diameter of those boundaries move about, expand and contract constantly. The actual boundaries containing the views and behaviors typifying the behavior of Germans circa 1932-1945 covered a lot greater piece of geography than is generally recognized today. But I think I’ve drifted away from what I intended to express.

      The distinction between personal conviction and selections of moral and ethical behavior, it seems to me, exist in a different universe than the concepts of ‘norm’ and ‘projected normative’. Never the twain shall meet except as ships passing in the night. Norm is the statistical composite of human behavior. It’s violent, xenophobic, driven by greed, ambition, hatred, distrust, and zealotry. Human history, and especially the history of the 19th and 20th Centuries are the stockpile of evidence of ‘normal’ easily referenced.

      Which has almost nothing to do with ethics, morality, anything much worth saving in human beings.

      It’s the exceptions disproving the ‘norm’ important in all of us, maybe I should have said.

      Gracias, Jules

  9. I appreciate your candor, also. I must thank you for that link, also. I have already put it to good use.

  10. I won’t get to read that linked article until they fix their server. Given how much I’ve read of the NDAA 2010, I doubt it will be anything really new, but I’ll tray again a few times in hopes they solve the problems. I won’t bore you with the technical details.

    • Ed: Sorry to hear the link’s dead. Was it the tinyurl? I could post the full URL if it would help. But as for technical details, I wouldn’t be likely to understand them. Gracias, Jules

      • Nah, I chased down the full URL myself; it wasn’t hard to find. The server for the original article is bouncing me, so I’m going to guess they are giving the thing its Sunday bath, so to speak. Checking from a testing service shows them bouncing everyone, so I’ll let you know if I notice a change.

  11. I hope that Wendy Gittleston is right and that you and I are wrong, but I saw a video in which Senator Carl Levin says the indefinite detention language was put in the bill at President Obama’s request.

    If so, that makes it doubtful that he is going to save us from all this, particularly since he has asserted the right to sign death warrants of people he designates as terrorists without any due process or accountability.

    • Philebersole: I expect they’ll all be blaming one another and they’ll all briefly experience what it’s like to tell the truth while they’re doing it. I don’t know who the guy is, but I trust his word as much as I do any of the rest of them.

      I’ll add that I trust the statement “he has asserted the right to sign death warrants of people he designates as terrorists without any due process or accountability” as much as if it came directly from the lips of a politician. Which it might have.

      Not to suggest he doesn’t hold the view and hope. Only to suggest he could hold it and still be accused of holding it by people who actually thought they were lying.

      Gracias, Jules

  12. I think that it’s cool that you went in search of a gold mine. While I can’t believe you were a believer in Y2K…I still think from reading, you are a person of conviction. Thanks for being an occasional reader. I appreciate it.

  13. We’re all big wave surfers now, gonna be interesting to see who rides it out and who gets crushed, cause the mother of all waves may be just a few sets out………..Steve Earle is from Shertz, Texas , Earle’s Chapel, Texas is where his family was from, lives in the East Village of NYC these days….an old running buddy of Townse’s from when he was 17 or so, he pretty well nails things to the floor with these 2 tunes written for the album Jerusalem back in the early Bush II fiasco, ironically the same album contained the song John Walker’s Blues which he wrote from the perspective of John Walker Lindh, the Cali kid that got captured with the Taliban and which the media and assholes in Nashville crucified him for….nobody ever pays the prophets their due until it’s too late

  14. I can understand your difficulty in trying to understand such a law, and why someone who is not a fascist and not a war monger would sign such a bill. And I appreciate your modesty. I’m not sure about it myself. And what’s more, since I’m not a citizen of your country, it doesn’t trouble me as much, I think… but I have similar problems to think about in my own country. I think the big problem of the national leaders is that they are dealing with challenges that they are totally unprepared for. I wouldn’t say unprecedented… because there were anarchists around over a hundred years ago, that did their best to befuddle society with the threat of chaos. But today, we have become aware of the fact that there are quite a few people walking around who are willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to wreck havoc on the powers that be… and occasionally to influence elections (as they did in Spain) or to bully people into accepting laws and social arrangements that they would not accept of their own free will. The old methods of law and order don’t seem to work so well. And so far, a lot of the tactics are guess work.

    • ShimonZ: I appreciate your visit and remarks. My suspicion is that you’re correct in saying the national leaders are completely unprepared for what they have to deal with, but that’s been the state of affairs with US leaders at least since the time prior to the Civil War. Which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Fact is the detention thing has been going on here a longish while, though generally approved, or unnoticed by the parts of the population holding the power to do it.

      The various tribes of Native Americans come to mind as an example. For a time lasting a quarter-century-to-half-century those folks simply weren’t allowed to leave the Rez if they’d fought hard to get rounded up and put on the Rez in the first place. Then there’s the US citizens of Japanese descent during WWII.

      For that matter, the number of US citizens rounded up and put in camps during the argument over whether States had the right to secede from the Union was middling high.

      So it’s definitely not unprecedented in the US. What’s unprecedented is the power structure coming out and saying flat-out they’d like to do it again without specifying precisely who it is they’d like to do it to. If they’d said that, those of us who aren’t the targets could go back to sleep and rest well knowing someone else we don’t like is about to have his day ruined.

      Gracias, Jules

  15. The article you linked is back up and running this morning. After reading dozens of analyses of this thing, I tend to agree with Glen Greenwald, and not the article you linked. The reason is this: The track record of the US federal government on things like this tends to support Greenwald and other critics. If there is any possible way the wording can be twisted against ordinary folks, it has been twisted that way every time so far. The problem here is, given the secrecy used in military detentions and torture, we may never know.

  16. I apologize if you’ve already seen this, but I found it instructive on my own interpretations of this bill, which happen to be in line with yours.

  17. Since exceptional days are rare, a fine day would suit me just…fine! You too, Jules, whatever you see fit.

  18. if you changed your mind because of this article; you owe it to yourself to also read the following.
    We all do.
    How can we make an informed decision unless we hear from all quarters?
    The first is for a site belonging to Jonathan Turley. He is a law professor at George Washington U. He is often asked to appear on C-Span’s Washington Journel,and other televisiona and radio programs as well as writing for the LA Times. His site is about 4th or 5th in the best Legal Blog Award contest which, by the way is a real award given by the American Bar Association. Anyway, I read his articles quite a bit and he seems to give fair balanced legal opinions as do the commentors many of whom are also attourneys.

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