The Image of the Sacred

I imagine this post, this change in direction really, will be a bit of a surprise to the few, if any, who have followed this space at one time in the past. But the truth is, I’ve expended all of my political energy on Facebook, all of my old friends from the right nobly fighting to talk some sense into me. I guess I don’t really know what to expect of the reception for these thoughts. I haven’t actually decided yet, whether to announce my comeback on Facebook or via email, or whether I should just plow through this mess on my own. But there is something about writing for an immediate, responsive, and critical audience that sharpens the thinking, makes one a bit more careful about how the words are put together… about the very word itself.

For the immediate future, until I can get this place presentable again (did I really say that about Sarah Palin?), I think this is going to have to be a covert op. The idea, The Image of the Sacred–and that’s really all it is at this point, an idea–is something that I’ve been messing with in my head on and off (mostly on) for the last three or four years. It centers on a notion about how we create meaning… our interpretations of signs, and in particular, how we legitimize or sanction one interpretation over all others as truth. Oh god… another polemic on truth. Maybe. But perhaps there’s more to this journey than the destination. There better be, anyway, or this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. Is it too late to ask for a timeout?

Time for a Reboot

In the coming days I intend to flush much of the election related content (at least to a back page or something like that).
Time to reinvent this space again.

Coming soon this week: Emotional Children for Men – What the X-men can teach us about fatherhood.

Where I’ve been and what I’ve been talking about…

Facebook

Facebook

I don’t believe it… I’ve become one with the Borg. Does this completely undermine the title of this blog?

Authority Figures
Things to be Encouraged By
Prop. 8 – A compelling Argument
So what are the facts?
So What Do We Make of This?

You may need a to be “friend-ed” by Spencer to view this thread about:

Black Liberation Theology, Taxes, and the Second Amendment

and this one about:

Taxes, Charity, the Poor and Stuff…the Role of Government

I promise you – we as a people will get there.

out of many, we are one

out of many, we are one

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

John Cleese – Who’s going to lead America?

Thoughts on Foucault

Discipline and Punish

Discipline and Punish

Does the soul, as represented in contrast with the duality of the King (temporal body vs. eternal sign of monarchical rule) in fact represent the eternal nature of man? Thereby endowing the designs of subjection within the construct of Foucault’s punitive power with a universality equal and opposite to the universality of the king’s subjecting power exercised in the name of supporting the kingdom (i.e. political economy that privileges and stabilizes the interests of the ruling class).

 

One problem with Foucault’s analysis is his incomplete understanding and treatment of the notion of the “Christian” soul. Foucault’s conception of the soul, unlike the Christian soul is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but born out of methods of punishment, rules and constraint. His argument that the Christian theological notion of the soul as born into sin, and subject to punishment is incomplete. Foucault uses the term “Christian Theology” as if it were a simple unitary document, but it is really a complex community of ideas. The soul in Christian theology also represents a source of a power that mitigates the punitive power of the ruling class. The “Christian” soul is, like that of the King, recognized as eternal, subject to the authority of the deity.

 

In Christian theology the soul is free except in relation to God – Foucault fails to understand the implications of being born in sin (at least theologically). Furthermore, in this conception, the Christian “soul” rejoices in the sufferings of this age, which are identified as signs of their freedom in Christ. There is an injunction to obey God rather than man – and at least among the children of the reformation – that frees them from arbitrary church authority as well. While God, does require obedience to authorities – the soul is free with regard to them in that they are only given outward obedience.  The ultimate power to punish – death – is not considered a punishment but rather a release – so it is unmasked (Wink 1984) as powerless. The punitive power of the ruling classes are then transferred back, solely to the body, thereby limiting its effect as temporary, and the authority is likewise then diminished.

 

One might argue that the other primary Christian theological position with regards to the relationship between the authorities in power and the subjected body (remember, the soul is not subjected to the rulers “of this world”), contradicts this notion, as disciples of that faith are charged to obey the authorities of the land. But again, there is a context within which that commandment is given, that might also easily be ignored or misunderstood. By submitting to the authorities of one’s, the argument continues, one lives a life above the reproach of the authorities, thereby avoiding punitive measures taken by the ruling class. Furthermore, in this act of legal submission, the Christian again understands this as a bodily, temporal act. Foucault’s flaw is that he is ultimately a materialist – and thus cannot consider the nature or capacity for freedom of an eternal soul.

 

Yet, the source of Foucault’s misrepresentation (or exclusion) of the Christian understanding of the soul arguably demands such an interpretation. The religious leaders (often intertwined with political leadership) that he portrays in his discussion about judicial torture and public punishment and execution offer no indication by their actions that they represent a God interested in anything but divine retribution. These “inquisitors” and judges demonstrate a corrupted misinterpretation of the judgment of God, and of their positions as the carnal manifestations of that blood-thirsty God. God, and by extension the religious authorities, are fierce in their judgments, which are dispensed as signs of absolute power. Their interpretations of this God were shaped so as to secure His absolute power for themselves; by claiming privileged and exclusive access to the knowledge of God, they retain that power by creating and maintaining a culture of fear that is expressed in the political economy of the body through torture and execution. Foucault states that the body “is an essential element, therefore, in a penal liturgy, in which it must serve as the partner of a procedure ordered around the formidable rights of the sovereign, the prosecution and secrecy.” (Foucault 1977: 47) It is Foucault’s basis on these examples of misguided corruption in religious authority for the understanding of the “Christian” soul that ultimately creates the hole in his argument.

 

This does not dismiss Foucault’s basic argument – as far as it goes in an existential and material world. What it does do is demonstrate a hole in Foucault’s theory that ignores another interpretation of the nature of the knowledge-power relationship. It is irrelevant whether or not he, or subsequent readers, agree that this Christian doctrine is “true.” The fact that there are a great number of individuals located within the political economy of the body (more than half in the US) that believe, perceive, or argue that they experience this to be true, radically alters Foucault’s equation.  It requires Foucault to address this radically different understanding of the relations of, and imposition of power, which he does not.

John McCain, Neo-Cons, and the Legacy of W

The continuing legacy of Pax Americana

The continuing legacy of Pax Americana

We’ve heard a lot of talk about whether or not John McCain represents a change from the policies of the Bush administration. The platform of the McCain campaign seem to be essentially (to be fair, not exclusively) built upon the following pillars:

Experience, Bi-Partisan Reform of the Culture of the Washington Elites (which is likewise tied to McCain’s “Maverick” record in the legislature), Foreign Policy Expertise, Military Experience and Expertise, and faith in the “Fundamentals” of Trickle-Down Economics.

At first blush, this platform looks markedly different from that of the Bush administration. Bush made no attempt at bi-partisan reform; had no real foreign policy or military expertise when elected; and was not a supporter of trickle-down…no wait… there is no difference there. But I am not going to focus on economics (ideologically) in this comparison between the president and John McCain. Their is much to concern ourselves with on that regard, and there is no question that economic ideology necessarily informs the design of every other sphere within the realm of political policy. But I will let that reality make itself evident as the evidence dictates.

This is not about the meltdown on Wall Street, however unfortunate that necessarily proves to be, at a time when the primary concern of the people of the United States. The McCain campaign has repeatedly stated that they wish to avoid discussion of the economy in this election. They do, however, hope to focus the majority of their attention on defense, the wars in the Middle East, and the experience of the candidates. No, this is about the militaristic policies of a Neo-Conservative think tank that defined the actions of the Bush administration, and in the process, undermined the very ideals of a Pax Americana that they sought to sustain.

Below are sections taken from a document entitled: Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. The document was written by “the Project for the New American Century is a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership”, which was established in the spring of 1997. As an interesting, though perhaps merely coincidental, side-note, among the names of those signing off in support of the projects “Statement of Principles” are Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Dan Quayle, Steve Forbes and Jeb Bush. I think that offers enough evidence to suggest that this document was indeed a major contributor to the policies and ideologies of the administration of George W. Bush. You can access the document in its entirety by following the link at the beginning of this paragraph. I am including a few passages from the document below to convey its general gist.

The point of this post is not merely to demonstrate the premeditated and catastrophic designs of a select few, that have plunged this nation into multiple wars, international ridicule, and an economic collapse of the highest severity. I would also ask the reader to think critically about electing a presidential candidate, that despite his many exasperated objections, clearly represents “more of the same”. Before you begin furiously typing your own objections, I would ask you to watch the tape of the second presidential debate, so that you might include in your objection an explanation for how John McCain’s stated intent to freeze funding to every government program — except the military — represents anything but a continuation of the imperialist war machine that our nation has become, thanks to the policies of the Bush administration as an extension of the ideologies of this document.

Excerpts from Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century:

“As the 20 century draws to a close, the United States stands as the
world’s most preeminent power.  Having led the West to victory in
the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge:  Does
the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of
past decades?  Does the United States have the resolve to shape a
new century favorable to American principles and interests?
“[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet
both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and
purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national
leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.
“Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its
power.  But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global
leadership of the costs that are associated with its exercise.  America
has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia,
and the Middle East.  If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite
challenges to our fundamental interests.  The history of the 20th
century should have taught us that it is important to shape
circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they
become dire.  The history of the past century should have taught us
to embrace the cause of American leadership.”
– From the Project’s founding Statement of Principles

————————————-

“The challenge for this coming century is to preserve and advance this “American Peace”… In particular we need to:”

ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces:
• defend the American homeland;
• fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
• perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in
critical regions;
• transform U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs;”
To carry out these core missions, we need to provide sufficient force and budgetary
allocations.  In particular, the United States must:
MAINTAIN NUCLEAR STRATEGIC SUPERIORITY, basing the U.S. nuclear deterrent upon a
global, nuclear net assessment that weighs the full range of current and emerging threats,
not merely the U.S.-Russia balance.
RESTORE THE PERSONNEL STRENGTH of today’s force to roughly the levels anticipated in
the “Base Force” outlined by the Bush Administration, an increase in active-duty strength
from 1.4 million to 1.6 million.
REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting
permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval

deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia.

MODERNIZE CURRENT U.S. FORCES SELECTIVELY, proceeding with the F-22 program while
increasing purchases of lift, electronic support and other aircraft; expanding submarine
and surface combatant fleets; purchasing Comanche helicopters and medium-weight
ground vehicles for the Army, and the V-22 Osprey “tilt-rotor” aircraft for the Marine
Corps.
CANCEL “ROADBLOCK” PROGRAMS such as the Joint Strike Fighter, CVX aircraft carrier,
and Crusader howitzer system that would absorb exorbitant amounts of Pentagon funding
while providing limited improvements to current capabilities.  Savings from these canceled
programs should be used to spur the process of military transformation.
DEVELOP AND DEPLOY GLOBAL MISSILE DEFENSES to defend the American homeland and
American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.
CONTROL THE NEW “INTERNATIONAL COMMONS” OF SPACE AND “CYBERSPACE,” and pave
the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of
space control.
EXPLOIT THE “REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS” to insure the long-term superiority of
U.S. conventional forces.  Establish a two-stage transformation process which
• maximizes the value of current weapons systems through the application of advanced
technologies, and,
• produces more profound improvements in military capabilities, encourages competition
between single services and joint-service experimentation efforts.
INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING gradually to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross
domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually.

Perhaps your convictions line up with this prioritization of the military industrial complex as the best means by which to secure our position of global dominance. In response to that possibility, I ask you:

Have the actions and events of last eight years really increased our position in that regard?