Commenter Archive

Comments by CK MacLeod

On “Troll-Stomping and Other Sensible Things: #WordPress Plug-In Beta Test/Preview

Hey VB - thanks for that.

I agree with your suggestion on alternative designs for the two kinds of highlight buttons - even a yellow box with a blue outline for comment-highlight, white box with blue outline and yellow shading, in other words imitating the current highlightification effects, might work. I also like the button you recommend - but I think I'd want it for a true "follow-this-commenter" function, somewhat as intended by the designer.

Part of my thinking also, and a reason I went with place-holders for now, is that eventually I'll have it in customizable form, inviting those inclined (among site operators, not among commenters) to substitute their own highlighting and button styles. Still, the initial release should be "excellent-as-is," if possible, so I'll work on that.

Also occurred to me that I could add a sixth button, for "go to highlighted comments," similar to the one at OT for scrolling through comments-since-last-visit.

The delayed tool-tip sounds like it could be a browser artifact - anyway wasn't intended. It's just the normal "hover." Anyway, should be insignificant once a user gets hip to what the buttons do.

Don't agree with you on the re-arrangement suggestion, but I'll reflect on possibly more natural ones, and I appreciate your willingness to get down to the granular level. To me, the two archive functions belong together. I put comment-highlight at the top right, because it struck me as likely the one to be used most often, or the one I would use most often. The ignore/in-ignore button would, presumably, be used most infrequently, even if it's the function possibly most desperately desired at some blogs.

Anyway - thanks again for the detailed input.

"

So here's a test comment to play with if you're shy.

On “Me: Aftermath or An 11/9 Twitterography – Here

I've been kind of avoidant, too. Found myself enjoying the Soderbergh SOLARIS on a movie channel this morning across from my yogurt, instead of the news. I agree with your other observations, too.

On “Operation American Greatness

By Trump's own words, he is a "regime change" candidate. I refer you to his "closing ad," just posted: https://ckmacleod.com/2016/11/05/donald-trumps-argument-america-youtube/ That he and his words are not to be taken seriously makes him an unconvincing regime change candidate in his own right, but supporters like Decius and McCarthy, or campaign CEO Bannon, continue to argue that the regime such as it is deserves to be changed, that, at minimum, Trump represents both a statement and some practical movement toward the regime change they seek. As I stated, I consider their embrace of this position, or the form of their argument, a "minor" irony. It centers on a set of stances they adopt. One need not accept any of their arguments to observe that the latter are mutually contradictory.

As for my "negative stance" toward Trump, I have explained it many times and in different ways. I find Trumpism itself incompatible with the precepts of a liberal democratic regime. To the extent Trumpism succeeds, liberal democracy in the United States fails. To me, it is in no way surprising that this threat manifests itself in a particularly loathsome individual. I find it somewhat dismaying that a much larger number of people don't from within a few seconds of exposure to him recognize his utter unfitness for any position of public trust at all, much less the presidency. Many may not take him or the election, or the public statement of support for him, very seriously, or they may treat other notions about the meaning of politics, political choice, political speech, and so on, as more important. In other words, a partisan Republican convinced that Trump will likely lose, or unconvinced that the presidency matters very much or ought to, might endorse (vote for) Trump for any number of reasons that do not equate with support for Trump in particular. That goes for the Decius-McCarthy type of supporter as well as for the conventional "hack" supporters - Rubio, Cruz, Priebus et al - who seem to support "the effect of relative Trump success," not Trump himself. In that group may be many who hope, adapting Jonathan Chait's formulation, to achieve libertarian ends by more or less authoritarian means, even if the former have relatively little to do with anything Trump himself has advocated (setting aside his customary inconsistencies).

If my opposition seems too much a "passion" than a "sober analysis" to someone who signs his comments "Build the Wall - Kill em All," it's a cross I'll have to bear. I also am happy to leave final judgment to the Symparanekromenoi or to history.

"

Though I might dispute that Clinton ever qualified as a "major proponent" of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the only mention of her in the post was by "Decius." I don't believe that I, in observing the irony of the anti-Neocons embracing a "regime change" thesis, only for us rather than for the poor Iraqis, embraced the fallacy that the dubiousness of an argument for Trump must amount to a positive argument for his opponent.

I also don't think that "couldn't be worse" is something "only speculatively... imputed" to Trump supporters. I referred to Trump's own many statements of that type, which would be easy to document (e.g., his infamous, repeated "What have you got to lose?" during his African American "outreach" phase), and I quoted McCarthy and Decius. I could have added numerous other examples, drawn from twitter mentions, interviews at Trump rallies, or even exchanges at this blog with Tim Kowal some months ago.

As for a President HRC's likely foreign and military policy, I'd guess it would be informed by the Iraq War experience in toto, just as her support for the 2002 AUMF appears to have been informed by prior experience. As you may recall, I don't personally choose to participate in the "well-night universal consensus or groupthink" either on the war decision or on the assumption that the counterfactual, no invasion in '03, would certainly have produced a "better" outcome.

All the same, I do think that the faultiness of the double last resort Trump argument - last resort argument for Trump, Trumpism itself as a last resort - since it is offered after stipulation to Trump and his movement's otherwise disqualifying flaws, leaves us with the debater's, or conservative's, presumption of the status quo, which is best represented by the Democratic candidate in this cycle.

The argument for Trump is put as a "regime change" argument. I don't see much from the Trumpists resembling a practical or considered or even minimally responsible or even minimally credible or cogent plan for the new regime, or for coping intelligently with the much more likely result of the old regime's continuation.

On “Ross Douthat: What the Right’s Intellectuals Did Wrong – NYTimes.com

Sure, anarchism stands apart from conservatism-as-an-intellectualized-populism, but I'm not sure what we're talking about otherwise.

"

What would your anarchism be other than an "intellectually more serious," or at least intellectualized, type of anti-elitism or, in the way you and possibly Douthat are using the term, "populism"? As for the "regeneration" of the "elite," unless you're going to put judgment, selection, comparative logic to death, then an elite according to whatever value "hierarchy" you embrace, including the one that places non-elitism and non-hierarchical thinking at the implicit top, you cannot escape it. Makes me think of the line of Nietzche's that an English professor of mine in ancient times was fond of repeating, to the effect that it's clear we all still believe in God, because we all still believe in grammar.

In any event, Douthat is interested in a more concrete problem here, I think. Continetti's proposal (quite a transformation coming from a man who announced the Free Beacon as a project of "combat journalism") seems to conceive of conservatism as an ethos unattached to any particular political program or standpoint.

On “Alexandra Petri: Ted Cruz and his conscience amicably part ways – The Washington Post

Btw - just posted a piece from Cyborgology, in part because on the off-chance you weren't aware of the site, I thought you might want to be: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/

"

Perhaps, but some of us have a lot of suspension of disbelief, or suspension of acknowledgment of the suspension, in favor of the greater cause, to make up for. So every forgiveness from then receives a compensatory denunciation now, amplified by the same very inconceivability of the other guy once exemplified by Cruz's honorable refusal, now only magnified in this willful reversal to endorsement. The personal dimension and the timing and the whole comedy make the fall from champion to object of ridicule steeper. Perry and Jindal, or this or that pundit or radio-talker, fell from lesser illusory heights.

On “Daniel McCarthy: New Class War – The American Conservative

McCarthy has struck me as a peculiarly compromised figure who is yet somewhat gamely struggling to discover a political rationale not entirely inconsistent with his, as they say, political priors. As I've argued elsewhere, AmConMag was "alt-right" or part of it in the fuller sense of the term before "alt-right" was "alt-right," and was instead simply a term for whatever wasn't left, wasn't obviously insane, and wasn't comfortable inside the reigning Republican coalition: alternative right.

As for this latest effort, I agree that McCarthy's attempt to impose a non-Marxian class conflict framework on the Trump phenomenon is perhaps less persuasive than it is interesting. After considerable brush-clearing, the connections between a type of libertarianism and a type of ethno-politics - reversion to the tribes and to regimes of the Masters and Slaves necessitated by rejection of the Universal Homogeneous State - might be re-examined. Instead, we have political campaigns in which the matter has to thrashed out via schoolyard taunts and the clash of voting blocs.

On “Timothy Shenk: The dark history of Donald Trump’s rightwing revolt – The Guardian

A very informative piece, yes, though I would have been drawn more to the analysis of the two main types of American "conservatism," the contradictions between them that become more pronounced during periods of American-national retrenchment, and the alternative available to the center-left (or "progressive center").

Also interesting in light of today's campaign news on the sidelining of Manafort and his replacement by the Breitbart supremo.

On “Ornstein and Mann: The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump. – Vox

If the Ds can't split the Rs via carrots, then the alternative is sticks. Since the Ds haven't been able to punish the Rs for obstructing liberal policy - like Obama's never-enacted jobs programs of both terms - that leaves liberals looking elsewhere for "progress," and otherwise playing defense while awaiting the next crisis.

It may be worth noting that when Rs have the presidency, and an economic downturn occurs, they relax their opposition to Keynesianism, while preferring tax cuts and "trickle down" to "social spending." Could be that next time around, after the Trump implosion, it will be easier to fight against that Club for Growth approach.

An effectively left-liberal populism with an appeal to the "forgotten middle class" was in the old Bill-Clinton repertoire. I think you could read "forgotten middle class" and much else in "New Democrat" as an appeal to win back "Reagan Democrats" - or, bluntly, the white working class. Clinton had little need of it as the '90s progressed, and as left-liberalism proceeded somewhat on its prior course instead, replacing the WWC instead of restoring it, and helping to create the current gridlocked pattern. It could be that, for the obvious reason, Hillary Clinton or other Dems would find it easier (which is not the same as simply easy) to strike that chord, eventually, than Obama ever could.

"

What "Republican in Name Only" could ever have meant, on the level of policy, was never entirely clear and stable, but it seemed to mean, above all, "willing to compromise," and was trucked out especially by opponents of John McCain - who, of course, in another fitting irony, became the party's standard-bearer. By now, we don't know what "Republican" means. There's a struggle ongoing over how to define the term. If Republicans themselves had had a better idea, they might have been able to resist the Trump takeover.

One key question for the Dems is whether they can turn the Trump crisis into a true crisis of the Republican Party at the level of '08, when it was blameable for twin foreign policy and economic policy disasters and gave up the House and Senate. Mann and Ornstein take the position that that Rs can and will repeat the Obama Era strategy of lockstep opposition, to roughly similar effect, and without ever having to go through a 2009 period of being unable to stop the Dems from legislating. Mann and Ornstein also leave open the possibility that the strategy will ultimately fail, producing some type of realignment (whether or not "in name").

David Frum, whom Mann and Ornstein mention, seems still to hope that this November will be sufficiently chastening to move Rs to a new strategy. It would only take a small faction of Rs willing to break ranks to move a slim House majority out of blocking position on significant legislation.

To the dismay of some "Reformicons," the Dems via Obama and Clinton seem to have gone to the left instead of offering a kind of national unity/grand coalition approach to the populist upsurge. Instead of giving despondent Republicans something in exchange for splitting forcefully and openly with Trumpism as the fruits of "True Conservatism," the Dems seem to prefer to damage the Republican Party as much as possible, while offering nothing for Reformicons to grab onto, turning the Fall elections into a mandate for another round or progressive policymaking (and appointments). If the tactic fails, and 2017-18 is two more years of political paralysis, then an early Republican recovery may stand as just deserts.

On “An Alliance of Digital Artists (Art and Work in the Age of Instant Reproducibility)

"New Media Rights" seems to be covering the whole waterfront, and it's a very big waterfront, but still a good resource to note, I think.

No name will be perfect, but I think "Digital Artists" covers or ought to be taken to cover graphic artists, photographers, and bloggers, who are my main interest for now, though I also suspect that on first glance some large number of those might still be going by some version of the old definition (i.e., writes computer programs that produce computer music that only a computer would find interesting).

"

Thanks - though I'll confess that my interest is as on this question more practical than theoretical, even if I'm the last to deny an interest in the latter.

The copy of your Mask refers us back, I think, more to the Walter Benjamin question, less to the problem of works - like news photographs, cartoons, and so on - that lend themselves to instant re-production that, for most users, is practically "lossless" (even if from a technical standpoint the reproduction isn't): The works never had much "aura" to begin with, since they were originally designed to be "mechanically re-produced." Still, as professional quality work they have some aura or a different kind of aura. Purely literary work is also effectively losslessly reproducible. The specific problem I've been addressing has to do with the transition from the early to middle days of blogging - everyone stealing everything, re-printing whole articles from the virtual pages of the NYT, photos included, and calling it "aggregation" - to a present period when efforts to defend copyright appear to be increasing, and when some people, like me, have been thinking about the difficulties faced by would-be publishers and creators of high quality work. A model in which hardly anybody pays for anything doesn't appear to be economically sustainable, or, if it is, is sustainable only for certain types of creators and publishers who may not be the types that we would most prefer to rise to be the winners (or only winners).

On “John Harris: Whoever the leader is, Labour may never recover from this crisis – The Guardian

I've always assumed that the United States was too diverse to sustain or be sustained by a parliamentary system. The British have their monarchy and their differently conceived, inherently conservative "constitution." Much of this current question revolves around their difficulties, in the 21st Century, finding themselves in the mirror. We experience the same problem, but in one sense are more used to it, in another have been sustained by a different solution and still may think we know who we are, even if in the current period the focus seems less steady.

On “Open Thread

How typically thoughtful of you, bob! No worries. Yes, it's warmish. I thought our patio thermometer might be getting carried away, but the Internet tells me it really may have hit 116 today, which'd be the hottestest I can recall experiencing.

And, yes, a few years back the AC at this house was dysfunctional, and I have also rented AC-less SoCal apartments and lived to tell the tale, but, if it was a case of impending heat death of my universe, I could switch a switch everything would be cool. Danged expensive tho, cooling a whole house, in this heat.

Anyway, it's all good or close enough. Was tweeting the pics for amusement's sake, and to try out some things on my smartphone.

On “Erica Grieder: The Conservative Case for Hillary Clinton – Texas Monthly

Sorry for the delay in replying, Tim: Other business got in the way. I also found myself writing and discarding some comments expanding uncontrollably on my prior comment and climbing toward the thousands of words.

I think the following statement of yours gets at the core of our disagreement:

As for your line of argument based on “responsible” government, we have different priors. My assumption is that the reigning leftism in American government today is destructive and must be stopped. Fairly typically conservative. I also contend the destructive effects are imminent and becoming irreversible. Maybe I’m on the alarmist side, but still basically conservative. I gather from your comments, on the other hand, that you think we have a good long while to go before there is anything to be really alarmed about, even to the point that losing the Supreme Court would not be irreversible. I disagree. That is why I would risk a President Trump: not because I want “to bring down the monarchy,” but rather because I want to save it before it’s too late. A Hail Mary play is radical on the opening drive, but perfectly rational and conservative in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter. (For that matter, if I were to insist on my own priors – rather than acknowledge our respective priors are disputed – I could argue that you are trying to “bring down” what’s left of our constitutional republic by supporting Hillary, even if she will “safely” bring it down. For that matter, I do not believe it worthy to talk about the “safe” way to bring our own liberty to an end.)

The language of "must be stopped," "irreversible," "too late," "to an end," in the context of a rejection of "responsible" governance at all, is absolute - or "radical," whether spoken in the first quarter or the final seconds of the game. Whether or not is "irrational" at any given time or in any particular situation is a different question. Some teams are better suited to make up some deficits than others. Generally, the nearer the game is to an end, the less irrational such radical premises will seem.

As far as politics and human affairs in general go, however, there are no true "irreversibles" as long as there still are politics and human affairs. We are not, in fact, playing a simple game heading into the final minutes, after which we'll look into getting on with our lives. We are talking about the most complex and open-ended process of all, one in which every action inspires resistance and produces counter-action.

This law of nature applies to your position as well, in many different ways. Among other things, it encourages and strengthens the position of those on the other side who also treat political conflict as "zero sum" and final.

The general transformation of American movement conservatism from loyal political opposition to internal enemy camp, fighting a civil war at least in its own mind for the eternal soul of America, by any means necessary, seems clear in this casting of political differences between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives, or between Democrats and Republicans, as a fight for liberty versus enemies who "must be stopped" before it is "too late." It's part of what I mean when I referred above to movement conservatism's death by self-poisoning.

To switch back to your metaphor, the problem or one problem may be that the American Right, at least as a national movement, made Hail Mary-ing an integral part of its game plan years ago, helping to produce its current predicament.

"

Thanks for responding here, rather than Twitter, Tim.

A primary feature of any presidential election, and I think especially of this one, is the difficulty of speaking about any aspect of it in isolation from much larger questions, which range from the bases of personal and collective identity to the action of great historical forces to the nature and purposes of politics. I'll try to confine myself as much as possible to your argument as you state it, point by point, but I suspect the strain will show, and I see no alternative to "going long" on this response.

In your dismissal of Grieder's "conservative case," you move initially to some comments meant, apparently, to express your "annoy"-ance:

“Psychologically stable” — unserious, ad hom. “Toddler-type state of mind” — same; and while I hope conservatives urge Trump to corral his language, his effective neutralizing of unfair and untruthful arguments is of incalculable value to our politics, the blueprints to the Death Star.

Both here and in your response to "Clinton is less risky," you apply the common mis-characterization of personal criticism as "ad hom." Invoking the "ad hominem" fallacy here is inappropriate in two ways.

The form of an ad hominem argument is "this argument is wrong because these people whom we all dislike believe it." Indeed, your last statement on the term "bigot" is much closer to the actual fallacy - something like "Because this argument is often made by the enemies of conservatives it is untrue or repugnant."

More to the point, for someone arguing on behalf of Donald Trump or in favor of supporting him (perhaps two different things) to be criticizing anyone for engaging in insulting or "low class" language or "unfair and untruthful arguments" is risible. Whatever else a vote for Donald Trump may be, a vote for a more temperate or "high class" political discourse it cannot be, unless, perhaps, under some kind of borderline nihilistic "the worse, the better" theory: Is that what you're advocating? Is that the meaning of the second part of your statement on Trump's "incalculable value"?

"Incalculable" seems a telling choice of words here: How is an observer supposed to "calculate" accurately the effect of... whatever exactly it is you believe Trump has accomplished or is accomplishing? Which "untruthful arguments" are we to expect no longer to have force as a result of Trump's conduct in this campaign? By what mechanism is this alteration in attitudes and mores supposed to take place? How will conservative support or opposition, or Trump's success or failure, affect the judgment - if judgment of something "incalculable" is possible for us mere mortals at all?

You at times seem to be suggesting that, by himself engaging constantly in bad arguments, or by constantly reversing himself, or by constantly misstating or inventing facts including in attempted self-defense, Trump somehow exposes the falseness of contemporary political discourse in general. So, for example, his surrogates are now saying that, in seeking disqualify a judge on the basis of the latter's ethnicity, Trump is turning leftist identity politics against the left and exposing their evil.

The notion of voting a satire into office, or selecting a fool for king in order to bring down the monarchy, does not strike me as a conservative political notion - or a responsible or patriotic one. I'd like to think it too contrived and self-contradictory to be intended seriously by a mature, self-styled "conservative," but, in light of the above and other comments you've made on Twitter or at the New Reform Club, I have to wonder if that's not the underlying theory of your case for Trump.

We don't know each other very well. I wonder if over the last few years, you have moved to an authentically radical, reactionary, and revolutionary position that qualifies as "conservative" only by historical affiliation, not by any intrinsic "conservatism" regarding national governance or political affairs.

I'm not yet sure what you mean to suggest, however. In other words I'm not sure what type of "Trump supporter" you really are. If you instead believe we are seeking a comparatively "better" person to become President of the United States of America, so are making a choice that doesn't reduce purely to program or ideology, then the question of the character of the individual to be entrusted with executive power is not some unusual or trivial or in any way inappropriate question. It is an ancient question. It was a question of great concern to the American Founders and Framers. It has often been considered a conservative question - not least since overly privileging the ideological, and ignoring questions of character and virtue, has been typically considered an ill of the progressive left.

It goes without saying that voters for better or worse seek to formulate and act upon judgments about the kind of person seeking high office. Strauss pointed out that this assumption is an unacknowledged classically "aristocratic" element of our mass democratism. We seek an outstanding person for the office - a war hero, an experienced legislator, a particularly well-spoken and thoughtful individual - rather than "just anyone." Jefferson hoped we'd exploit the talents of our "natural aristocrats."

Of course, lacking perfect, trustworthy information about the private lives of politicians, voters have always had to satisfy themselves with making a statement about character or the kind of character they would like in a leader. At the same time, it is thought to speak well for a party or cause that it attracts "good people" or the best person.

The question of "stability" is independently important, for reasons that Grieder partly outlines, given the powers of the American presidency, and the pressures to which the American president is subjected. If we lack a truly heroic or wise candidate, it is incumbent upon us - or some of us might take it as obligatory - to make an at least safe choice.

To return to the Grieder and her case, she makes a strong argument regarding the public characters of Trump and Clinton. You do not address it on its own terms, and instead dismiss it as somehow improper and demeaning, then stand on that conjecture about an attribute of Trump's campaign that seems, as discussed above, to rest on Trump's evident lack of virtue.

You next turn to Grieder's argument about Clinton's conservatism on some issues. Grieder gives an example of one issue on which Clinton is demonstrably more "conservative," by recent policy definitions, than Trump. You're right that she ignores immigration and the Supreme Court. More on the latter in a bit, and perhaps we can discuss both issues in relation to this election at another point, but I believe Grieder is arguing here under the general proviso that Trump cannot be trusted at all: Any issue positions he takes should not be taken very seriously - and we have extraordinarily plentiful evidence, with new exhibits added daily or more often, supporting this conclusion.

Considering the very good chance that Trump will not win, the question before you is also more complex than what positions you think he, compared to Clinton, might be more likely to realize as policy - or in the form of appointments to the Supreme Court. We may or may not differ about the odds of his winning, but all that is certain today is that as a political matter Trump and his positions are now understood to represent the Republican Party, which is still understood to be the "conservative" party in the United States. I consider this predicament terrible for principled conservatism in America. I think every step further in this campaign on its present course, even today with Republican officials North, East, West, and South desperately seeking distance from their nominee while still endorsing him, deepens the damage.

One does not have to agree with everything one's candidate says and does in order to vote for or endorse him or her, but every issue discounted in that process is a potential advantage you have ceded to the other side. On matters of ethnic discrimination, coherent economic and fiscal policy, national security, and the precepts of our constitutional and liberal-democratic order, the question may soon be whether the political damage to conservative credibility will be reparable in our lifetimes. (This argument is the basis for a prudential argument or argument from conservative self-interest against supporting Trump.)

As for whether or not you find Grieder's or my arguments "rousing," why should we consider it our obligation to be "rousing"? Maybe the political situation is in fact very bleak for American movement conservatives, at the moment. Maybe, not to put too fine a point on it, you screwed up royally, and are paying the price now for years or worsening error. Maybe a period of grieving by the survivors for the death by mass self-poisoning of the American conservative movement (as we knew it) would be more becoming. Maybe, at least, you'll have to find the "saving power" somewhere else other than in a national campaign for and under the man who is destroying that movement.

Which brings us to:

...what does rebuilding look like once we’ve lost SCOTUS for a generation? Conservatives had the last eight years in the wilderness, and the support early on of the Tea Party successes, and their best idea was…a third Bush? The intellectuals don’t pay their promissory notes. They need to put up the security of a serious plan for a way forward.

At this rate, you are very likely to "lose SCOTUS for a generation" regardless of whether movement conservatives lend their support to Donald Trump. Were he to win, they would still have a political problem even beyond his personal trustworthiness: To say nothing of the real harms to the nation and the world, conservatives would risk association with a disastrous presidency. In that case, in relation to recovery from the current crisis in American political conservatism, the only thing worse for you than having supported the loser Trump would be having supported Trump the winner. You might not just "lose SCOTUS" for a generation, you might lose everything, in classically tragic fashion continuing your movement's recent course of engineering the political apocalypse you've been trying to warn people about.

I'm sure you're familiar with the "doctrine of holes." How are you supposed to start "re-building" when you're still shoveling away at the bottom of the pit you've dug?

The reasons for Trump’s support are the very ones ignored in pieces like this: status quo is not desirable (or, for that matter, conservative); GOP doesn’t deserve a presumption that it’ll make everything all right after a Hillary tenure — its recent track record instead earns it the burden of proving what fundamental changes will accomplish, and how it means to do so.

Whatever else the above might constitute, it is not a conservative position. The "preference for the status quo" is the sine qua non of "conservatism." The conservative presumption is that none of us is in a position to judge the "status quo" objectively and totally against its by definition non-existent alternatives. Appreciating the complexity of human affairs, constituted prior to and beyond "politics," the conservative never promises to "make everything all right." That is a utopian notion.

The situation before, during, and after a "Hillary tenure" will be mixed, and the conservative will not look primarily to the political system, or to politics at all, for solutions to ills that run deep in culture or to the eternal predicament of life on Earth this side of the eschaton. Maybe the problem all along has involved those seeking from the GOP, and therefore from partisan politics, that which conservatives know, or used to know, is never to be found there.

"

Thanks, TK. I'll have a reply later. Not sure yet whether I'll do it as a comment or a post.

On “2020 contenders struggle to maneuver around Trump – POLITICO

You'd think, but there was clear and definitive basis for refusing to endorse (or maintain "the pledge") before the attack on Rafael.

OTOH cynicism about politicians is generally reflexive enough - with good reason - for many to expect Cruz to follow Rubio, Ryan, et al, anyway.

Whatever you think about Cruz's political potential or personal character, he's still smarter than most of them. Some might say he's trying to have it both ways - still and as ever. He still hasn't quite fully revoked his promise to stick to "the pledge to support" as a matter of honor... And he also has his early supportiveness for DJT's candidacy to live/pay down. Altogether a complex predicament that he's trying to finesse.

On “World War Zero brought down mystery civilisation of ‘sea people’ – New Scientist

I'll make a note of that one. You might like, as complementary on the broader subject, http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com.ee/2015/10/pre-modern-battlefields-were-absolutely.html

As for ancient warfare, six or so years ago I wrote a capsule review here of another book you might find complementary in a different way - third book discussed: https://ckmacleod.com/2010/02/15/books-in-brief-the-life-of-belisarius-i-sniper-the-war-that-killed-achilles/

On “Comment Elsewhere: To @BurtLikko under “How to Fix a Broken Elephant: Prologue”

Well, as we know, we can find an occasional voice in favor of oppression and slaughter, but for the most part "oppression" is another word for "bad or undesirable politics," while "slaughter" implies pointless mass murder. So, you'll receive overwhelming support, including from many people you despise, for the goal of less oppression and less slaughter.

The architects of the Iraq War, for instance, certainly believed or certainly persuaded themselves that on balance they would be reducing oppression and slaughter. Almost every accused slaughterer-oppressor does (if self-conscious mass homicidal sadists exist, they may not often achieve political power). The accused oppressor-slaughterers' main problem, in their minds, will have been convincing themselves and their subjects or citizens that even one life could or should be expended - or even one citizen asked to give his or her life or take someone else's life. This ask is complicated by the fact that my giving my life (or moral life) to fix Other People's Problems is not something you can ever adequately compensate me or my victims for materially. You can pay estimated lifetime earnings equivalent plus punitive damages to my family or a victim's family, but you cannot bring me or my victim back to life.

So, you have to convince me that the sacrifice is what we call "necessary," that it preserves or advances "something" more important specifically to me than my life or, a different but related question, than the taking of another person's life by me. In addition to believing in something other than a merely material compensation, I have to be willing to accept some degree of oppression, both against me and against some other person, and some certainty of slaughter, potentially including my own slaughter and the slaughter of those whom I might consider innocent as individuals.

There is no way to avoid this question except by avoiding reflection on morality in relation to the taking and giving of lives altogether, in other words by turning one's back on politics and in so doing on living a meaningful life: Even and especially the pacifist makes that calculation, willingly submitting himself or herself, and kith and kin, to oppression and slaughter rather than initiate it directly - perhaps in the hope and belief that doing so will lead to less oppression and slaughter in the end, and in the present comprehension of a higher moral good justifying one's own personal sacrifice - or experience of oppression and slaughter and of permitting or refusing to intervene against other people's oppression and slaughter.

On “An Ancient Peruvian Mystery Has Been Solved From Space – IFLScience

All reasonable arguments I think. As for the question on "pre-historic," there's a tautological aspect to the question of what is and isn't "historic." To the extent we think we know that something happened when and why, then it may enter into "history." To the extent we're referring to a particular narrative - "our history" or "history for us" - maybe we're in the process of bringing or trying to bring Nazca civilization into "history for us." Others seem to treat the term "pre-historic" as purely or nearly purely a chronological designation: Before ca. 10,000 BC or so... Still others consider the term obsolete or at any rate imprecise and un-scientific or un-philosophic or even politically questionable: ethnocentric, Eurocentric, etc. I tend to avoid the term, though not because I'm terribly concerned about offending multiculturalists.

Related

From the Featured Archives

Categories

Extraordinary Comments

CK's WP Plugins