Monday, July 23, 2012

Mass Murder In Aurora

     This post simply mentions two links of interesting points of view, following the mass murder that occurred in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

     The first link is to Mike Adams of the Natural News website, who has published an article (and a companion video on You Tube) asking the question,  "Why Did No One Fight Back?  Questions Linger Over James Holmes Batman Movie Theater Shooting."

     The second link, "Aftermath In Aurora: Child-Killer As Comforter-In-Chief", is written by the well-known writer William Grigg, whom I have found to be well-informed on any subject about which he writes.  He raises questions about the appropriateness of President Obama comforting the families, given that he has overseen, approved, and justified attacks on innocent people in several places, notably Yemen, over which he has no more jurisdiction than James Holmes had in Colorado.

     Each of the above postings presents sober facts and solid analysis, and raises honest issues and questions.  I am interested in any comments by any regular readers of this blog.

     There is a third post, of an admittedly more speculative nature, which suggests that the theater killing was pre-planned--we could say "conspired," meaning the knowing participation of at least one person in addition to the "lone gunman."  In a time when the American public has been treated to murderous events such as the "raid" on the "compound" of "bin Laden" in Pakistan last year -- complete with staged "official White House photos," served up by an ignorant and complicit mass-media-cartel and swallowed whole by the American public, left, right, and center -- it may not be inappropriate to ask further questions, before we are distracted by the next event.

     Your comments are welcome on this third post, as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stephen R. Covey, RIP

     I was first acquainted with Stephen Covey about twenty years ago, when a close business friend of mine gave me a copy of his early best-seller, Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.  My friend, Bill, knew I liked all kinds of business, leadership, and personal-improvement books, and figured I'd like this one.

     He was right.  By the time I had finished Seven Habits, I knew I had read a book as good and valuable as Dale Carnegie's classic, How To Win Friends And Influence People.  And perhaps Seven Habits stood on a stronger, more consistent philosophical and practical foundation.  This wasn't about sales or influence; it was about individual effectiveness and worth -- character.

     Over the years, I would add to my Stephen Covey library.  Principle-Centered Leadership, First Things First, and The 8th Habit all found their way to my shelves.  For me, he was a teacher's teacher.

     I liked Covey's kindness, optimism, ethics, practicality, and spiritual dimensions, which were fully reflected not only in his writings, but in the way he conducted his seminars and his business.  His 8th Habit advice, "Find your voice; and help others to find their voice,"  encouraged me in the classroom in recent years: I had felt that way for a long time, but . . . 

     He was the one who put it into words, and his words moved people all over the world.

     Thanks, Stephen Covey.  Go with God.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Let Wendell Berry Be Wendell Berry

A comment about another post

     I wrote this comment about a post that appeared on The American Conservative website, and which was in turn commented on at Front Porch Republic.


This is just a generalized comment, not addressed to a single, particular person:

     Let Wendell Berry be Wendell Berry.

     If you have a different opinion on some subject, make your own case and articulate it as well as you can.

      An interview with Wendell Berry should not be treated as a test to see if he agrees with “our” wisdom — and if he “fails” that test, we are shocked, disappointed, confused. Can’t we suppose that he actually, and thoughtfully, and perhaps even “rightly,” disagrees with “us”?

      I have read a lot of Wendell Berry for a lot of years, and am confident that his wisdom and legacy will remain long after the purported shock of this opinion wears off.

      Look to Wendell Berry for inspiration, as I do; but don’t be demanding of him, or asking of him, that he must validate your own, no doubt equally well-thought-out, viewpoints.

      To do that would be to insult the man — and yourself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bill Kauffman and the Front Porch Republic

A rabbit trail

     Following rabbit trails can get you into briar patches, as Br'er Fox knows.  Or it can get you into the world of Watership Down, where you can make the acquaintance of Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, and the rest.

     My internet rabbit trail du jour begins at Lew Rockwell's website.   There I pick up on an article about the (misbegotten) drug war.

     Author, Bill Kauffman.  I don't recognize the name.  He starts his article talking about having drinks with a friend recently out of jail.  (Good; he doesn't spend all his time in church, fellowshipping with the righteous.)

     Soon he moves on to Nelson Rockefeller and his role in expanding the (New York) state's power in the drug-war and the brutality of the prison-industrial-complex.  (And the drug-war and the prison-industrial-complex are precisely two sides of the same coin, with Caesar's head on both sides.  Render unto Rockefeller the things that are Rockefeller's.)

     The article ends with the story about Mother Jones and her intercession with President Taft on behalf of labor radicals, told in an entertaining way.

     Okay, great article.  Who is Bill Kauffman?  I check out Wikipedia, and, sure enough, there he is!  Okay, let's quickly run down to political beliefs.  Libertarian leanings; check.  Culturally conservative and isolationist; check.  Critic of development; check.  Writes approvingly of distributism and agrarianism; double check.

     Dang!  the list keeps going on!  Catholic Worker, Old Right, Jeffersonian, Green, Vermont Republic secessionist . . . check, check, check, check, check . . . why haven't I heard of this guy before??

     I get to the bottom.  There is a link to Bill Kauffman's speech at Rally for the Republic.  Rally for the Republic?  Ron Paul's great gig in Minneapolis, 2008, opposite the Republican convention?

     I was there!  Along with my fellow road-trippers Ryan, Sarah, and Chris.  We heard this guy in person; I'd just forgotten his name, among the many great folks who spoke at that rally.  I click on the video link and sure enough, I remember the speech.

     Okay, backtrack.  I look for his website.  It pops up as Front Porch Republic.  I check out his list of articles.  There's one on Ray Bradbury, one on Mary Surratt, the ballad of Ed Abbey. . . . (Hey, castiron! Here's a great reading list.)  This is beginning to look real good.

     Okay, let's check out the stable of authors who contribute to the website.  I recognize a couple of them right away.  Allan Carlson, the guy from Hillsdale College who talked about Karl Polanyi.  And Kentucky's own Mary Berry Smith.  I'll have to get acquainted with the rest.

     No briar patch at the end of this rabbit trail.  It led to a great spot right by the Front Porch.

*       *       *

     I think you will enjoy your visit to Front Porch Republic.  And a quick look at YouTube will show you several videos of Bill Kauffman, talking about localism and human-scale thinking.  He's so literate and friendly, he makes me think of a younger, upstate-New-York-version of Wendell Berry.  So the next question would be, does he write poetry and great short stories??

     If you check out his stuff, you might drop back by here and leave a comment.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Even The Wise Cannot See All Ends

     "Even the wise cannot see all ends," says Gandalf the White, the heroic wizard in The Lord of the Rings.  And he was very wise, I think, when he said that.  Even if he was a fictional character.

     There have been fictional characters who have been portrayed as if they could see all ends, or almost all.  I am thinking of Hari Seldon, the character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy who establishes the "science" of psychohistory (an updated version of Marx's historical determinism?) and a "Foundation" of elite scientists-mathematicians-psychologists-sociologists to guide the Galaxy into the future, world without end, etc.  (See here for Hari Seldon's influence on the economist Paul Krugman.)

     As far as I'm concerned, I'll cast my philosophical and economic lot with Gandalf and company, rather than with our present semi-secret Foundation with its World Wide Bank and World Wide War emanations.  Small is beautiful; grandiosity is self-defeating.

     In the long term, that is.  The Foundation will have -- is indeed having -- its day.  Or rather, as the Lord Of All Worlds said, its Night.  "This is your hour,"  He said, "and the power of darkness."

     Meanwhile, the wise still cannot see all ends.  (Though, as they grow in wisdom, they may see more ends.  And those more clearly.)  As the frontier of personal knowledge expands, so widens the vista of things yet to be known.

     We know much, very much.  And, if wise, we must likewise know that we don't know much.  We don't know much at all.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The New American Century

A recommendation of a video

     The documentary, The New American Century, is available on YouTube.  When you have an hour and thirty-five minutes available, you may want to watch it.   (It is also available as a set of much shorter segments.)  It covers some crucial current events, and supplies the historical background and context.

     If you watch it, I'd like to hear your comments.

     I'll briefly and incompletely give my own:

     I have read a fair amount of history, including a pretty good bit of military history, and I will say that the narrator's presentation of what happened in earlier American wars corresponds very closely to what I have learned.  He is basically well-informed and truthful.

     His interpretation of the results of the current "Project For The New American Century" likewise corresponds closely to my own understanding.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Andy Griffith, RIP

     Andy Griffith passed away this week, and naturally I thought back to the old Andy Griffith shows where he and Don Knotts represented "law and order" in Mayberry, North Carolina.  Honestly, I like their idea of law and order.  At least, it beats the law and order that we've actually got.

     Then I thought -- here goes -- what if we could find a way to make sure that Andy Griffith re-runs were continuously showing on the TVs in all the lounges at all the police headquarters in the country?  (Instead of all the rogue cop crap.)   Maybe put them into the curriculum at the police academies? Maybe arrange to have them running in all the doughnut shops?

     Who knows, it might be one small step to that kinder and gentler America that Bush-the-First said he envisioned, right before he took us into Panama for a drug deal gone bad, right before he took us into Kuwait for an oil deal gone bad.  Or at least, a kinder and gentler New World Order.

     And then I thought, slapping my forehead, of course, how could we have overlooked this national treasure during his lifetime?  Why wasn't Andy Griffith made the head of the Department of Homeland Security instead of those hopeless and changeless apparatchiks Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano?

     We could have had Andy at DHS, and Don Knotts running TSA.  Now that would have been an improvement I could have believed in.

     I mean, seriously.  Can you imagine Andy explaining to Opie why they are mobilizing SWAT teams and flying drones all over Mayberry to defend our freedoms?  It couldn't happen, could it?

     Can you see Barney Fife trying to pat down Aunt Bea at the airport?  That wouldn't happen, either, would it?  She'd smack him with her purse.

     Which is my point.  What is happening wouldn't be happening, if we had better people in charge of government operations.  Or better government employees.  Or more Aunt Bea's at the airport.

     Oh, well.  I can think about it, can't I? 

*       *       *

     I think I'll dedicate this to Will Grigg at Pro Libertate, if he doesn't mind!