Clearing the Haze is dedicated to bringing its readers the stories that are important to us all. We’ll move beyond what CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the like have decided we are supposed (allowed) to know. We’ll try to be clever, but we are more concerned with being right… and nowadays, sometimes being right is just clever enough.
I remember when I heard about the Turkish version of shock and awe, and heard the explosions and devastation from the ABC newscast (I was not watching the TV). I thought to myself, only half joking, “I bet that’s stock footage they’re using to get everyone all hyped up and condemn Trump for deserting our most precious and closest, most innocent and dearest, most allied-est allies, the noble Kurds.” I was wrong. It wasn’t stock footage. It was footage from a machine gun range in Kentucky. ABC has apologized and removed the video. Blame has been placed on former Ankara mayor Ibrahim Gökçek, who apparently, according to the Washington Examiner, is quite a troll. Maybe as good as the Tweeter-in-Chief. He seems to have put the video up on his Twitter account. But, let’s pause a moment, and view the “footage obtained by ABC News…” So dramatic.
Slaughter, massacre, atrocities. Watching it again, I had to laugh. As I mentioned earlier, ABC has retracted the story, realizing the video had nothing to do with Syria, the Kurds, or Turkey. But it is just one more reason so many in America have little to no trust for the media corporations feeding us their newsgenda. (That’s a combination of news and agenda, in case you missed it.) ABC “obtains” a video… what does that even mean? Is that supposed to evoke in us a sense that some hard core investigative journalists hunted down and secured this hard-to-get tweet from the former Ankaran mayor (well known for his trolling on social media)? I think so. Is it supposed to make us feel secure that this “obtained” video was vetted by the “See the whole picture” team at ABC News. Oof, “See the whole picture.” Not a great mistake to make for a news outlet with a slogan like that. Better go back to “More Americans get their news from ABC News than any other source.” But I suppose that isn’t anymore true than “See the whole picture.”
The whole picture is simply this. The media have a mission to get Trump. This TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) has led to countless mistakes that have caused many Americans to doubt not only individual medium’s credibility, but all the media taken together as an e pluribus unum whole is to be doubted. My personal doubt of the initial story and video was informed by many years of listening to and observing media biases. But the doubt was really strengthened by the last few years of the infamous “Witch Hunt” (as Trump called it… but shouldn’t it be Wizard Hunt?) which showed a complete breakdown in journalism and journalistic practice. Very few “hard news” programs were able to keep it straight.
It’s a bit sad, in a way, that I had what would have been considered not too long ago a kooky, conspiracy-theory doubt of “footage obtained by ABC News” or another other news site for that matter. Now it may have been out there a little to think it (I only half thought it). But it was fake, and I wasn’t surprised… not even a little. ABC hasn’t blamed anyone yet, and hasn’t said how it “obtained” the footage. I’m not sure which is worse. Did they knowingly lie about the footage, or are they stage 4 in their TDS and just fell for it, a wish fulfillment?
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Whatever we learned last week from the hearing, it is clear that Mueller learned just as much or more, to paraphrase Devin Nunes. I don’t want to pile on Mr. Mueller, but I’m not alone in wondering what’s happened to him. Both the Left and the Right have noted that he’s not as sharp as he was five years ago. It’s obvious to most that he was not running the investigation and most definitely had little or nothing to do with the report bearing his name. He was clearly the titular head, the face of the investigation which was resting on the laurels of his reputation. Some have asserted that it was Weissmann who was really running the show. I don’t know. I think maybe we’ll find out more when the IG report comes out in September.
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Jordan B. Peterson has become quite the lightning rod. Why is
this? His main message is one of personal responsibility. Take control of your
life. Confront and overcome the darkness and evil in your own soul. That is
summed up, for Peterson, in what your mother always made you do before you
played outside… CLEAN YOUR ROOM! Your room is a microcosm for your soul. The rest
of the house is by contrast the public part, the part that everyone else sees.
When we have guests over we’ll often (hopefully) clean up the house, put things
away (not necessarily in their place, but out of sight), and, at last, shut our
bedroom doors so no one notices what our most personal and revealing space
(Those of you who always keep their room clean will not be
able to identify with this. Be grateful. But this is still worth reading,
especially if you do not know much about Peterson and the nerves he is striking
with a wide variety of people.)
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are
within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also
outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and
Jordan has taken a lot of flak for his apparently simplistic “clean your room” rule for life. Earlier this year, while in Australia, an SJW confronted him about this simple rule of life. The exchange is instructive.
Peterson and SJW
Followed by a brief cut from an interview with a funny-guy about the same topic.
Peterson and Funny-Guy
What I have continually noticed is the inability of many of Dr. Peterson’s critics to think below the surface of what Jordan is saying, or at least appearing as if they are not in order to score easy political points with the woke, SJW crowd. “Are you saying I can’t worry about global climate change or starving African children, or the sex slave trade if my room is not clean all the time? That’s stupid!” Jordan always responds (my paraphrase): “If you can’t even clean up your own life, where do you come off thinking you have the moral authority to fix everyone else’s lives? Who or what do you think you are?” But they cannot or will not understand.
The Tragedy of Existence
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within…” -Jesus “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. […] So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. […] The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.” -Solomon
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth […] and the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” -Moses
Peterson returns to this theme often enough.
Jordan on the suffering of existence
I must say that I have reacted in the past to this theme of evil, pain, pointlessness, and mindless suffering quite negatively. “God saw that it was good.” And then there’s the philosophical maxim that to be is better than not to be. I believe in the intrinsic goodness of reality, and evil is in some sense a privation of the good. It is an enemy of the goodness intrinsic in God’s good creation. So I bristled at the characterization of the world as very bad and evil, that “life is a fatal disease.” Not that I was a fool on the level of Rousseau, denying original sin, or blaming society for all the moral failings of the world. I’m very aware of sin. Like Lewis, I could write about the inner workings of a demon tempting the Christian precisely because I know how the game goes… it lives in me everyday. But quite recently it suddenly dawned on me what Peterson was saying… and more importantly, I realized was Jordan Peterson is in our age.
The Prophetic Nature of Peterson’s Mission
And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. -Jesus
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. –Jesus
If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. -Jesus
The prophet often comes with a message of condemnation. He fills the air with a wave of painful and often very upsetting truths that threaten to upend the way of life and even the very worldview of his audience. “Woe to you” and “Unless you do this very difficult thing…” Yet the prophet often finds a small following, dedicated to reforming there own lives and thus the community and larger society around them.
I have come to see Jordan Peterson as a kind of secular prophet. He comes forth with fiery rhetoric. Life is a damn hard struggle. Life is a series of failures. Life is constantly letting you know you’re not good enough, and if you don’t recognize that on your own, something happens to knock you on your butt and make you confront your inadequacies.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered. –Joel
Jordan is good at proclaiming the failures which ail our culture. But he is not only a prophet of doom. He offers a way out.
A way out
Now, I am not saying Jordan Peterson is a religious prophet on the level of Moses, Solomon, Joel or Jesus Christ Himself. I am not even saying he is a prophet of God in the proper sense. But I see him, as I have said, as a secular prophet… a pre-evangelist. He is doing God’s work, to be sure. He is clearing away the weeds that can and do choke away the hope the Gospel of Jesus offers. He even helps those of us who have already accepted that message of love and reconciliation, the message that embraces suffering as redemptive, the message that proclaims that it is precisely through confronting the evil in your own heart, and wrestling with God, as Jacob wrestled with God, that you will be saved… and not only you, but the whole world as Jesus brings all Creation to Him in a renewed Heaven and Earth.
One last word, I had to smile when Jordan had this to say about the Catholic Church…
Catholicism is sanest
Of course, he is absolutely right. Catholicism is the sanest game in town.
When a certain group puts a book on a forbidden index because it is vulgar, harmful, despicable, heinous, vile… well that’s intolerant, hateful censorship.
When another group does it, well then it’s valiant, courageous, the right thing to do.
But this is the state of moral dogma in our society. It really isn’t a dogma at all, except that it has one dogma: If it used to be right, it’s doubtful and if it used to be wrong, it’s even more doubtful– in a word, Doubt is the new Moral Dogma. And it is propped up by an even more dubious principle of Absolute Relativism, or even Relative Absolutism. Whichever way we look at it, those in power with a revolutionary agenda made their way to power by peddling a well-thought out critique of Absolute Morality and offered a very enticing alternative of subjectivist/relativist liberation.
Oddly enough (not really), the “question authority” regime seems now to have little tolerance when others question them. Suddenly, the other dubious principle of “Legal Positivism” is cited (not in those words) as a Divinely given principle which only the most crude and uncivilized would question.
But I don’t know if the Secular Progressives are much different than the Religious Conservatives who used to run the show. I couldn’t argue reasonably with them any more than those now calling for Pa Duck’s head on a silver platter (with apologies to St. John the Baptist). Morality for the Religious rulers was just a different kind of Absolute Relativism. “Homosexuality is evil ’cause the Bible says so.” ‘Why?’ I am banished from the society because reason isn’t required and is rather impious. Likewise, the new Non-dogmatic Dogmatists say with all the brilliance of Divine assurance that same-sex marriage is an absolute right. ‘Why?’ I am banished from the society because reason isn’t required and is rather impious. After all, how could anyone *nowadays* question that without being a homophobic, bigoted son of a bitch?
Well, I question both statements. So I am a lot things to a lot of people (my mother might have something to say about that last distinction). So was Plato…
But I must admit, it is rather irksome that the two biggest competing groups for power are not required to reason. It makes my job a bit harder (viz., impossible).
And I also must say that the Religious dogmatists at least had an Absolute, Divine (if not completely arbitrary) source of their dogmatic proclamations. The new Dogmatists refute the very idea of Divinely given morality on the one hand and demand, on the other, the unquestioning assent of faith upon which the old faith was based.
“I’m a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don’t think you’re talking to the terrorists. I know you’re not. I know I’m not. So we don’t have anything to worry about.”
Really? How is it that a man can sanction the surveillance state of 1984 because, “I ain’t done nuttin’ bad.” How about the principle that the 4th amendment is there; and that no matter how innocent you are, the government cannot just violate your constitutional rights? And if they’re rummaging through our records now, what are they going to do later? Would Mr. Graham be OK with an FBI or CIA agent sitting in his house 24/7? Apparently. He ain’t done nuttin’ wrong.
I often hear that the government shouldn’t be involved in this anyway. Well, that may be right, but it’s not a factor here. An interesting exchange did take place between Justice Kagan and Mr. Clement about how unprecedented it is for the federal government to get this involved in marriage.
Next we hear about the rationality of DOMA with Clement, J. Kagan and J. Kennedy:
Interesting, at the very least…
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I would highly suggest listening to both oral arguments presented to the Supreme Court Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Prop 8:
There is much to think about in these cases before the Supreme Court. The arguments made by all the parties involved are well thought out and well argued. I don’t pretend to know how these cases will play out in the end, but I can offer a few thoughts.
It was fascinating to hear Charles J. Cooper argue in the first case that the purpose of marriage is children.
Later he says:
“society’s interest in responsible procreation isn’t just with respect to the procreative capacities of the couple itself. The marital norm, which imposes the obligations of fidelity and monogamy, Your Honor, advances the interests in responsible procreation by making it more likely that neither party […] will engage in irresponsible procreative conduct outside of that marriage. That’s the marital — that’s the marital norm. Society has […] an interest of seeing any heterosexual couple that intends to engage in a prolonged period of cohabitation to reserve that until they have made a marital commitment. So that, should that union produce any offspring, it would be more likely that that child or children will be raised by the mother and father who brought them into the world.” (Official transcript, 24-27)
Society at large seems to have an interest in preserving the traditional understanding of marriage and eschewing that which would undermine one major objective of marriage; that is to say, children. There are of course, practical benefits as well. Offspring are needed if humanity is to continue. Marriage is ideally suited to the continuance of the human species. Same-sex unions are by nature bereft of procreative power. It is by its very nature sterile. While an older couple who get married may be past the childbearing age, that is merely an accident of time. Heterosexual sex is by nature able to end in conception. An elderly couple getting married are doing nothing to frustrate this primary purpose of sexual relation. Gay sex is, by its very nature, primarily a frustration of that end.
But enough of all that, which is highly debatable and should be discussed over a several pipes and some single malt Scotch with friends and those of good will. In terms of the “equal protection” application, the point is that homosexual couples are not “similarly situated” compared to heterosexual couples. And being “similarly situated” is the key to determining whether there has been an equal protection, or Fourteenth Amendment, violation. And as to whether these groups are similarly situated, Mr. Copper offers the following answer in response to an objection raised by Justice Ginsburg about the past prohibition of interracial marriage:
Finally, the real question is whether Prop 8 is constitutional. Mr. Cooper offers this tidbit which is never refuted by his adversaries:
What about the “equal protection” argument vis-à-vis DOMA? Listen to these exchanges from the DOMA hearing.
Justice Alito begins the first three audio selections with a question, and Mr. Clement offers his rebuttal in the last clip.
Mr. Clement, in rebuttal:
It seems clear that there is some issue at stake here with equal protection no matter what the court does. If it says DOMA is unconstitutional, then it only means that some homosexuals will get “equal protection” under federal law. As was pointed out in the third clip with Ms. Kaplan, (pages 100-101 of the transcript), a couple could get married in New York, but move to a state which does not recognize their marriage and, presumably, be back at square one until that state recognizes homosexual marriage or the federal government forces the state to do so (which would open another can of worms). You would then have a case of a lawfully married couple in New York enjoying the benefits, and a lawfully married couple who relocated to Oklahoma who do not enjoy the benefits. And what about the military couple that are transferred to Oklahoma? Suddenly, they are out of luck as well? Wouldn’t there be an even greater inequality perpetrated by striking down DOMA?
Furthermore, there would be a rather large uniformity problem for the federal government. It would have to treat the same homosexual couple differently depending on their state of residence. The litigation would mount up. But, I suppose one could argue that there is a moral obligation to go through all that pain. However, isn’t a moral obligation what in part led to DOMA and many state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman?
Does political might make right? We’ll see.
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| Tagged: Homosexual Unions
The interesting exchange between Cruz and Feinstein over gun control brought out in bold relief the theoretical and philosophical differences between a libertarian/conservative/traditional view of government and a liberal/progressive/socialist(ish) view. Just listen to the back-an-forth:
Senator Cruz framed the question in the opposite way from which it was answered. He wants to know if it’s permissible to positively single out individuals or things for which the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights apply. Senator Feinstein (and senators around her) wanted to say that we negatively identify certain individuals or things for which the rights in the Bill of Rights do not apply. But that is an answer to a different question. The question isn’t, “Are there exceptions to the Bill of Rights?” but rather, “May we identify a certain number or group of people or things and say that these are the only people or things which have protection under the Bill of Rights, such that even if there are twenty individuals who are identical regarding their legal standing as American citizens, Congress may decree that only one of them has the right to protection from unwarranted search and seizure?” The implication is obviously that the other citizens do not have that right, but the new decree need not specify that.
Another layer is peeled back when we note Sen. Feinstein’s statement that “we just make laws and if the courts strike them down, then fine.” That is an interesting view on governing. Is she about defending the Constitution, which she has pledged to do in her oath of office, or seeing what she can slip past it?
This back-an-forth also reveals her view that the Government is what gives us our rights—or at least that is what is implicit in her approach. She may not explicitly believe that and may even deny such a claim. But we often hold contradictory views without even realizing it. This may be one such moment for the Senator. But given the fact that many of us are legal positivists, I have my doubts about what degree of cognitive dissonance she may be experiencing.
However, Feinstein’s guns ablaze tactic for gun control appears to have frightened off fellow Democrats who come from Purple States and are facing reelection.
I know I have said that all politicians are stinking liars, but St. Paul did say the same about all Cretans and I am sure that there were and are exceptions in both cases. Say what you want about Rand Paul, but please don’t let it be said that he is a typical politician concerned only with his reelection (at least don’t say that yet… who knows what the future holds). You may agree or disagree with his position on drone attacks, but I think we all can agree that he has elevated the intellectual tone of the debate. I watched his interview with Greta Van Susteren and was delighted to see that he didn’t stick to the same old used up rhetorical devices that seem to work on the so-called “low information voter”, but leave people with their own thoughts and principles out in the cold.
Or, if you don’t like Fox News, here’s CNN (which is a little long and the hostess of the show is somewhat irritating with her attempted gotcha which she seemed to think was successful, but only highlighted her dimness):
I understand how some conservatives are disappointed with Paul. But I don’t understand how many Liberals are not standing with Paul. (I mean, I understand, but I just don’t understand… you understand?) If the Bush Admin had been this evasive in answering a straightforward question, I can only imagine the uproar. I mean, my goodness, our country simulates drowning on a few people and we are barbaric torturers, but we assassinate people overseas and no biggie (if it’s our guy doing it). Paul wanted to know if we could do that here with US citizens. Suppose there is a woman who is a US citizen inside the United States suspected of ties with a terrorist group and furthermore she is declared a enemy combatant. Can the DoD use a drone strike on her while she is in her home or walking down the street or otherwise not engaged in any nefarious activity? The answer is obviously, “No.” So why couldn’t the DoJ just say that? Why the slippery answers? Why not just say, “That’s ridiculous! Of course we could never do that! Americans have constitutional rights. What’s more, we can’t just call someone an enemy combatant and then take them out while they are not engaged in combat like we do overseas with people we designate as enemy combatants. We can’t just designate here in the US. We have to accuse first and then prove that accusation.”
Well, we finally got something like that, but it took way too long.