Category Archives: Politics

Trump’s Economic Delusions

If you listen to Trump, he has created the greatest economic success in the history of the world. Trump complains endlessly about how awful Obama’s economy was and how he turned the whole economy around during his term and even from his nomination in 2016. The charts below show Trump’s economic delusion with a bold, dark black line contrasted with economic reality from solid sources. The charts show the following critical economic indicators since 2009: Gross Domestic Product, Wage Growth, Unemployment Rate, Total Government Deficit as a Percentage of GDP and Major Market Moves on the DOW, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Reality shows a very different picture than Trump’s delusions. It shows that the economic recovery started in 2009 under Obama’s presidency. Trump merely inherited Obama’s recovery and called it his own. Furthermore, he tells us how awful Obama’s economy was with nothing about the crash of G.W. Bush’s economy after six years of Republican’s domination of the Congress under Bush’s watch. Now his trade wars and unilateral, nationalistic, economic isolationism is starting to show volatility and weakness with ominous signs of recession approaching. It is incredibly narcissistic and predictably wimpy, whining when he blames everything bad on Democrats and Obama and takes credit for delusional accomplishments. When headlines go bad with folks like Jeffery Epstein, Paul Manafort and Anthony Scaramucci, he “barely knew them.” He even goes so far as to blame those whom he has appointed, as is the case with the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, for weakness in the economy. On December 6, 2017 Trump told reporters, “So we’re at 3.3 percent GDP. I see no reason why we don’t go to 4 percent, 5 percent, and even 6 percent.” [ https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/06/trump-defies-data-with-6-percent-gdp-growth-forecast.html ] Here is a chart of actual GDP during his term which has gone nowhere near 6 percent:


[ https://www.bea.gov/data/gdp/gross-domestic-product ]

For Trump and his sycophant, Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, there is no mention that Trump’s long line of failed appointments reflects badly on Trump’s leadership failures to pick competent people in critical positions. Instead, Larry Kudlow tells us, “I am echoing the president’s view — he has not been bashful about that view — he would also like the Fed to cease shrinking its balance sheet,”[ https://moneyandmarkets.com/kudlow-fed-interest-rate-cut/ ]

Trump demands cultish allegiance from his devotees. He expects his followers to follow him as the Pied Piper into hallucinogenic phantasms of reality that tell them to not believe their eyes and ears but his manic rantings. Trump’s delusions are nothing other than lies which he uses to divorce people’s perceptions from reality. When voters can so easily be deluded by bold face lies, we are all in big trouble. It used to be that conservatives rhetorically prided themselves on being realists. Realism is necessarily based on reality – by definition. I do think the longer Trump weaves his tale, the more likely his voters will have a ‘crises of faith’ and the more likely the half of eligible voters which do not vote will tire of his endless negativity and hypocrisy. If we do not wake up soon, Trump’s delusion will become all our nightmares in reality!

https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?reqid=19&step=2#reqid=19&step=2&isuri=1&1921=survey

https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet

https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

https://www.cbo.gov/topics/budget

Dow https://www.wsj.com/market-data/stocks

Nasdaq https://www.wsj.com/market-data/stocks

S&P 500 https://www.wsj.com/market-data/stocks

The Big Picture: Facts Concerning History, Politics and the Economy

Why Trump Should be Impeached

Republicans and Democrats are telling us that impeaching Trump would follow the same historical path that impeaching Clinton took. They proclaim that if the majority of the American people are not behind the impeachment, it will hurt the Democrats and help the Republicans. Because of this, Democrats shrink from impeachment talk and Republicans welcome the impeachment of Trump. Not so fast, what does the history tell us? Certainly, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans took a beating in the Congress after Clinton’s impeachment. Perhaps it was because the American people were against the drip, drip of the Starr investigation over an extramarital affair. However, let’s not forget that the Republicans took the presidency back in 2001 with a very conservative G.W. Bush AND six years with a majority in the House and Senate. How was that so bad for them? Are we to write that off as short-term memories on the part of the American people? I think not. Could it be that the actual circumstances of Clinton’s impeachment for lying about an extramarital affair was deemed by the American people as not rising to the occasion of high crimes and misdemeanors? Could it be that the American people are smarter than some give them credit for? Then, there are those Democrats that tell us impeaching Trump will alienate the middle and push ‘center right’ Republicans and independents away from the Democrats. Let’s take a look at these Republican oriented voters.

Sure, there are Trumpsters that would lay on a grenade for Trump while shouting “Trump is Great”. Those folks are not up for grabs for anyone other than Trump. I believe that Trump represents an aspirational myth propagated by the Republicans since Barry Goldwater: Sheer will and determination will make you rich in a Republican styled capitalism. While that may be true for a select few, the majority of those rich wishers will die in their poverty-stricken fantasies. It seems intuitive to them that individual selfishness is a virtue of capitalism no matter what the collateral damage is. The Republican dogma for decades has been no holds barred, ‘get what you want any way you want it’ with no regard to anyone else. Adam Smith would have been horrified at this kind of ‘survival of the fittest capitalism’ (See Free Market: Capitalism and Socialism). Trump represents this kind of ‘will to power’, free market survival of the fittest to Trumpsters. Sadly, this aspirational will for power is statistically mental opioids for the majority of its devotees. For these die-hards, ideology, ethics and compassion are nonsense made for the mentally ill. Law, the Constitution and ethics are not relevant to success. Wining is all that matters. For them Trump is the prototypical hero for this emotional, self-interestedness. The fact that he did not start in poverty like them does not nullify their boldly stubborn and prideful faith in their own imagined virility and heroic identity. The bottom line is that these folks will never be up for grabs for the Democrats. They will die true poor, Republican believers. Impeachment of Trump would have no effect on their vote.

There is a cousin of these true believers which are also non-ideological and purely and solely referenced to self-satiation. They are strictly on the goodie train. Their only criterion for voting for a politician is, “What can you do for me?” Republicans that fall into this camp demean people on social government programs all the while thinking nothing of their Medicare, Medicaid, Obama care, food stamps and Welfare (I paid for my Social Security and Medicare. I don’t take government handouts, The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites). Logic is alien to these narcissistic Republicans. However, they could be up for grabs by Democrats if a Democratic politician can convince them there is something in it for them. Alas, these voters are fickle and cannot be counted on to sway any election. Again, impeaching Trump matters nothing to these folks unless they think it will affect their goodies. This can be remedied by Democrats which, like Republicans, can one-up the goodie train.

There are still Republicans which use their brains to figure out that selfishness at any cost is a self-defeating task for individuals and societies. Many of these folks have migrated to the independent camp since Trump. Those that remain in the Republican camp cannot be counted on to vote Republican in the wake of Trump. These folks can be loyal ‘hold your nose and vote for a Democrat’ as long as Trump-styled ideology remains prevalent in the Party. Once they think the haze of Trump’s hangover is gone, they will return to the Republican camp. I believe that impeaching Trump would be satisfying for these voters. In their thinking, flushing ideological Trump waste down the toilet could clear the air for them to return to their Republican Party of old.

In the Obama years independents increasingly leaned Republican and decreasingly leaned Democrat. However, this trend has reversed in the Trump administration. Republicans have fled the Republican Party to call themselves independents. This has had the effect of deceptively keeping the approval numbers high in the Republican Party for Trump while bleeding the absolute number of Republicans profusely. Additionally, there has been a migration of independents which were historically oriented to the Republican camp towards the Democrats (A number of Republicans appear to be becoming independents). Many of these folks are fiscally conservative and socially moderate to liberal. These folks like the rhetoric of Republican ideology because it has been consistently marketed as sound economics. They tend to be driven away by social conservatives in the Republican Party. These folks tend to be more thoughtfully reflective about economics and over time find more complexities in assigning a blanket approval to Republican economics. Statistics like this, The Great Lie: The Great Depression and Recessions of the United States, have more of an impact on them over time. These folks can and are becoming Democratic voters. It seems to me that impeaching Trump would be more appealing to them than not, if nothing else, to forestall the advance of fascism and authoritarianism which is highly offensive to socially moderate to liberal independents. In my opinion, if they did not go Democratic, they would probably not vote or go for a third-party candidate.

I think none of these folks would have much an impact if Trump was impeached. Certainly, we know that actually booting him out of office by the Senate with Mitch McConnell is an impossibility. However, this should not stop impeachment in the House of Representatives. Why?

For quite a long time we have had a political stand-off in the U.S. with voters almost equally split between Republicans and Democrats. This has resulted in a flip-flop of Republican and Democratic power in our government. It seems that the net result is a Sisyphean styled task which can never resolve the truth-claims of either side. Over time this political stagnation results in more and more political paralysis and less capacity to get anything done. It leads toward less confidence in government. This favors the far right who love to get in power to prove the incompetence of government by their own facile incompetence. Specifically, by:

1 – refusing to fix programs such as Obamacare while being all too happy to try to repeal it forever

2 – insisting on costly investigations for years like Benghazi and Hillary’s emails even after many investigations have shown nothing

3 – looking for scape goats like the FBI and Justice Department for failing to substantiate their conspiracy theories

4 – failing to fund mandatory spending programs adequately which were already made law by Congress or to even approve an annual budget for the Federal government

5 – insisting on more costly government programs which benefit their private market buddies like Medicare Advantage, no bulk negotiations on Medicare and Medicaid prescription drug costs (“I paid for my Social Security and Medicare. I don’t take government handouts.”), tax reform for corporations, etc.

This kind of behavior would get any free-market, private business employee fired in a heart-beat. With this kind of government by paralysis, the stand-off strategy between political parties is not a long-term win for Democrats but a lose-lose over time for them. It ends up just proving that the Republicans are right about government when they get in power to make sure what happens is government incompetence at the benefit of their own ‘private market’ interests. What the Democrats need to focus on is new voters.

In the last presidential election, roughly a quarter of eligible voters plus three million voted Democrat, a quarter of eligible voters voted for Trump minus three million and a half of eligible voters did not vote at all (Did Trump Do Democrats a Great Favor?). The best hope for the Democrats is to get new voters. The best hope for the Republicans is to restrict voter participation and stagnate the government. New voters include the young, single women, Hispanics and working folks which do not take the time to vote. These folks are not going to run away from Democrats because Trump gets impeached. However, they will not come out unless Democrats try something different to get them to vote. As we know, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Those that employ the popular cliché of ‘the far left’ in the Democratic Party driving away the middle seem all to ready to return to the tried and true failures of appealing to the fictional middle which Hillary has demonstrated are not enough to sway the presidential election. Not only are the numbers based on the historic strategy of Democrats not enough, the Republican ‘winner take all’ strategies over time have made it very hard for Democrats to win without overwhelming victories. I, myself, supported Hillary and worked very hard for her in the last election. However, in light of the structurally embedded hurdles the Republicans have erected for Democrats over time, it is time that we recognize that the diminishing number of likely voters in the middle and the increasing negativity towards the government over time in the Republican/Democratic standoff will not bode well for Democrats. Let’s look at some of the hurdles the Republicans have erected to protect their shrinking numbers.

While gerrymandering has been done on both sides of the isle, the Republicans are much better historically at it than Democrats. They have been intensely focused on it for many decades. I remember when I lived in Texas in the 80’s Democrats had to leave the state twice to keep the Republicans from having a quorum so they could redistrict to favor the Republican Party. This did not stop the Republicans only delayed them as it was the typical merely defensive strategy of the Democrats. For decades, Republicans have consistently made appointments, manipulated Census data, used the judicial system thanks to the Federalist Society and catered to rural America without any benefit to them to make it hard for Democrats to keep a majority in the House of Representatives. One need only look at how much the Republicans have kept the House in recent decades to see how successful their strategy has been.

The Electoral College is popularly thought to have started in 1787 with the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. However, the Constitution does not refer to an ‘Electoral College’. It refers to electors and was a totally different system then we have today (United States Electoral College). The electors were thought to be required for the presidential election to keep the more populated urban areas of the Country from dominating the rural areas. Additionally, the Three-Fifths Rule counted three out of every five slaves as a person. This gave the South, which had many more slaves, an advantage in the number of electors – but not blacks or women who did not have the right to vote. Electors in the time of the Constitution were not required to vote in any particular way and each elector originally had two votes. From the start, the electors were only white, male landowners. Women and blacks, who were mostly slaves, were not allowed into the club of electors which decided the presidency. Therefore, the idea of fair, representational government from the beginning was not fair or representational in terms of absolute population numbers. After the Civil War, the Electoral College was used even more to favor the conservative white, male South in the form of Jim Crow laws not unlike the voter suppression efforts of our day. The increase in population numbers in the South increased after the Civil War as the slaves were freed which resulted in higher numbers for the South in the House of Representative and thus the Electoral College. However, the electors made up of conservative white males had the effect of institutionalizing bigotry in what was supposed to be a representational democracy. The Electoral College is still supported by many Republicans not because of any concerns for fairness but, as we have seen in recent elections, to keep the popular vote from determining the presidency.

Similarly today, as in the days after the Civil War, the Republican Party and their hard-fought majorities in the Supreme Court brought largely by the Federalist Society has secured voter suppression efforts to their advantage. The Party has convinced their members that voter restriction is necessary to protect against what factually has been proven time and again to be the myth of massive voter fraud. Trump claims he won the popular vote due to over three million cases of voter fraud which, by the way, they always assume to favor the Democrats. This favor seems to fly in the face of many cases where Republican Secretaries of State have committed the most bold manipulations of their voter roles to favor their party. They are adept at dropping voters off the roles which might disfavor the Republican agenda. Additionally, thanks to McConnell they have secured a record number of Federal judges. All of these actions have made the future success of the Democratic Party an uphill battle. Catering to the middle will not get us there.

I believe that this concerted and long-term objective of the Republican Party has made it very questionable as to whether we really have a working democracy anymore. Unlike most popular opinion, I lay the blame at the hands of the fifty-percent of people that do not vote. We are merely getting what we deserve. Our democracy is seriously dying in a whimper. The inability of the Democrats to take a united, offensive stand against this erosion of democracy is most recently evidenced by their indecision about impeaching Trump. The recent Mueller report highlighted many times when Trump’s executive staff saved Trump from doing the most idiotic things to get him immediately impeached. By protecting Trump, they were furthering and enabling Trump’s continual deadly authoritarian stabbings at our dying democracy. Likewise, the Democrats who are too timid to start impeachment hearings on Trump are enabling the erosion and demise of our democracy. What are we protecting by refusing to impeach a wannabe, ‘keystone cop’ styled, criminal Mafioso boss? This is not an extramarital affair. This is lights out and the Democrats are fiddling while the U.S. burns. Their rationalizations are ill-thought as I have shown for not impeaching Trump. Democrats are so used to being on the defensive that they have taken on a kind of Stockholm-Syndrome to their political strategies. Political Republican marketers have driven our country increasingly towards authoritarianism and away from democracy. The inability of Democrats to muster a long-term offensive strategy against this erosion has enabled the Republicans to succeed. This mealy-mouthed lethargy is not working folks. It seems our only choice after this anemic history is to fall on our sword.

Trump has done one thing very well. He has employed the same technique Hitler did to consolidate authoritarian power behind him. No matter what comes up, the Mueller report being the latest evidence, it is used as another occasion to demonstrate the corruption of the FBI, the Justice Department so Trump can step in to fix it by firing even his own appointees to get more submissive Trump loyalists into positions of power as Attorney General Barr demonstrates. Troubling true facts are discredited and re-marketed as proof of the need for Trump to be in charge. For example, the Mueller report not only completely ‘exonerated’ Trump, but the whole investigation was corrupt and will require another complete investigation to conjure up ‘facts’ that will inevitably make Trump more powerful and our democracy a relic of the past. The tactic of authoritarianism is to ever tighten the noose around its opposition by reinterpreting its opposition as proof of its own need for control. While Mueller may have thought he was being prudent by giving weight to the Department of Justice policy not to indict a sitting president he will be seen by history, if Trump has his way, as paving the way for a further dismantling of the FBI and the Justice Department when all the ‘witch-hunt’ investigations of the ‘witch-hunt’ are complete. The Democrats as playing the same middle of the road game as Mueller and will end up as road kill just as Mueller did.

I think we have more of a chance to bring in new voters by impeaching Trump than caving into indecision and inaction. The strategy we have been using is NOT working folks. It is like the free-market health care myth that Republicans pushed forever but time and time again has shown us that the free-market cannot and will not solve the problem. Time and time again catering to a defensive, middle of the road strategy has resulted in an ongoing erosion in democracy and towards authoritarianism. It is not working Democrats! Let’s try something different. If we think we are going to lose we are deceiving ourselves. We already lost as evidenced by Trump and his alleged conquest of the Mueller report. Even more so, our self-doubting has enabled the move towards authoritarianism. We need to stop enabling and take a stand. We need to show new voters we are ready to hold their interest. A clear distinction is needed not more muddied and namby-pamby catering to the middle which does not exist in any significant way. Our idea of holding the middle has factually over time cost us more than we can afford. Trump is proof that it is not working. These existentially trying times for democracy calls for a clear and resounding distinction. The time for appeasement is over. There are too may systemic booby-traps placed in what was our democracy to hope holding the middle will magically work this time. Democrats need to realize that the facts are as clear as they are ever going to be – there will be no magic ‘aha’ moment that more facts will bring out and sway the public towards the Democrats – stop the magic, wishful thinking. This is merely a delay tactic for the lack of courage. Reality has raised its ugly head in Trump. If Democrats do not respond decisively, we will have no one else to blame but ourselves.

One more thing, I am not advocating that we take up the ‘winner justifies all’ tactics of the right. I do think we need to take a forceful and clear stand but not at the sacrifice of facts. We need to calmly shore up facts to demonstrate what credibility looks like. We need to reflect compassion and adherence to an ethical code and the spirit of our laws. What the far right has shown us very clearly is that winning at any and all costs looks no different than mob tactics or Nazism in the end. If we are not better than that, there is nothing to fight for higher than ourselves and the mad-max war of all against all is the pitiful, final residue of humankind. That end certainly makes the non-human animal kind look like saints living amid the doomed and depraved cries of sound and fury signifying nothing.

 

Announcing First Cut of My New Songs

I have posted my first cuts of 10 new songs. They are a rough draft, guitar only cuts with a quick mix. It is mainly conceptual for the latter cuts. I will be adding instrumentation, rearranging and more polished mixes later. Click on the link below to get to the site.

Alterity

Did Trump Do Democrats a Great Favor?

First let me say emphatically that Trump is a national and historical tragedy which vitally threatens the continuation of our democratic form of government■

Second, I have always been left of many Democratic politicians but have continually voted and worked strategically for Democrats. However, I have been consistently vexed by the apparent inability of rationality, facts and plain common sense to win out over the fear card Republicans have been playing since Barry Goldwater. Fox News amplified and capitalized on the inherit capacity humans have for gossip and drama to overcome reality. Don’t forget Rupert Murdock made his money on a tabloid like our National Enquirer called The Sun. In our country, Murdock was able to eliminate the word ‘tabloid’ from his media enterprise, attach the word ‘News’ to it, eliminate the need to read and made his media absolutely passive. He gave folks the same gossip, the drama, and unlike real gossip he totally controlled the message. He called this enterprise, Fox News. In effect, Murdock made Fox News the World Wide Wrestling of politics. His 24 hour barrage of highly charged negativity fueled with a nostalgia for a non-existent past was a drug for those who needed to make life bigger than reality. Far right dogma was a marriage made in Hell for Fox News. It is hard for people to get worked up over facts and reality.

Since 50% of eligible voters in our country do not vote even in a presidential election, the new right of Barry Goldwater over the decades was able to increasingly dope up enough folks to offset the quarter of folks which like to vote on facts and reality – the non-addicted folks. There actually used to be Republicans like the Rockefeller Republicans which would nowadays be called Democrats by the new right. In any case, this produced a stalemate in elections which kept both parties in reciprocating power over the decades. Democrats from the 60s tend to have real ideals that do not change like diversity, civil rights, equal rights, democracy, etc.. The new right, in spite of their raucous insistence as the Party of Lincoln, increasingly gave up on the Lincoln which opposed slavery and held steadfastly to the U.S. Constitution. Their thin veneer of equality in the ‘inherit justice of capitalism’ increasingly became harder to justify as they pushed harder and harder to maintain their voter equity with Democrats – even as their highly ethnic and aging voter base was shrinking. Democrats always suspected that their intensely defensive protests against racism was more propaganda than sincere. As minorities have inevitably become main stream, Americans have seen more and more attempts by Republicans to suppress the vote, drastically reduce or stop immigration and political asylum guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and keep control of women and their reproductive choices. Democracy became hostage to the dictates of their rage. With Trump, the value Republicans gave lip service to honesty has become a “well that is just the way he talks” thing. For several years, any sincere Republicans have been dropping off the ranks of the new right thugs. So, how has this desperate, gun toting and violent desperation helped the Democrats?

Fox News controls the message and the ‘truth’ emphatically. However, they cannot control the free press. They can sophistic-ally call the free press ‘fake news’ while they watch their tabloid news but they are frustrated in their desire to autocratically control all media in our country. Trump would have all the media flatter his ego endlessly like any other common dictator but that is where they failed. The fact is there are many folks which do not need the increasingly desperate sugar high of negativity and a nostalgic past that was not their past or even a real past. These folks tend to be just fine with a non-manufactured past, warts and all. Increasingly, the far right screech has become a screed. However, their noxious poison is quickly becoming the antidote for our politician’s hallucinatory machinations. IF our democracy can withstand the current detoxification of the new right, we will proceed to a more mature and functional culture and statehood. If we, as a country of diversity, can allow the dying gasp of what histories have amply demonstrated to be catastrophic and tragic failures, we will have earned the right to grow up; to cast off the all too typical need for autocratic shepherds which end up eating their sheep. There is only one catch, NOW we need the 50% of eligible non-voters to tip the inevitable decline of the delusional and come to the rescue of their own best interests. No eligible voter is excused at this critical time! If Republicans, Independents and Don’t-Cares do not step up and vote on Tuesday to end Trump’s devotee’s raging haze we will all fail together. Trump has taken over the Congressional and the Judicial branches of our government. The checks are all gone except the voters. If you want a future for hope, freedom and democracy get off your ass and vote – wake up please!

On Origin

Philosophy Series Contents (to be updated with each new installment)

Philosophy Series 1 – Prelude to the Philosophy Series

Philosophy Series 2 – Introduction

Philosophy Series 3 – Appendix A, Part 1

Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

Philosophy Series 5 – A Detour of Time

Philosophy Series 6 – The Origin

Philosophy Series 7 – Eros

Philosophy Series 8 – Thales

Philosophy Series 9 – An Interlude to Anaximander

Philosophy Series 10 – On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

Philosophy Series 11 – Aristotle and Modernity: The Eternal and Science

Philosophy Series 12 – Levinas and the Problem of Metaphysics

Philosophy Series 13 – On Origin

————————————————
Philosophy Series 12
On Origin

How can what has not yet begun be continued? Can there be a beginning prior to the origin? If being has an origin, as philosophy has always maintained (regardless of whether philosophy can or cannot discover that origin), then what is the sense of “is” when one says that “there is a beginning prior to the origin”? Such a beginning would already be a challenge to the firstness of first philosophy, would already be a challenge to the “is” that attempts to discover its origin, of itself, by itself, courageously, invoking all of history and nature if that is what it takes to be free of outside help.1

Professor Cohen makes an interesting observation which results in this odd quote. The context of this quote comes from his analysis of the credit Levinas gives to Rosenzweig and Husserl in the preface to Levinas’ masterwork “Totality and Infinity”.2

With regard to the “challenge to the “is””…

I wrote a philosophy series here on my blog where I tried to work through some of the Presocratic philosophers. In particular, Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, plays an important role in subsequent ancient Greek forging of ideas and language that follow in Occidental history. Hesiod was believed to be influenced by Hittite and Babylonian culture. For a more complete discussion of Hesiod see Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod3. However, this quote from Professor Cohen enabled me to understand a link between Hesiod and Levinas I had not explicitly thought of before.

My observation inspired by Professor Cohen’s quote is that before Parmenides and the diachronic move from logos to Hegel and German Idealism, we see in Hesiod the placeholder in chaos (χάος4) for the face of the other. Chaos, the yawning gap, which Hesiod, through the Muses, speaks to us answers the question of origin…

“from the beginning [origin, archê, ἀρχή5], tell who first of them [the gods] came-to-be [genet’6].
First of all Chaos [χάος] came-to-be [genet’]”7

The noun ‘chaos’ indicates a ‘yawning gap’, a radical rupture.

The noun is derived from √χά, meaning ‘gape, gap, yawn’, as
in χαίνειν, χάσκειν, etc.8

The phrase translated ‘came-to-be’ or genet’ is a verb, 3rd person, singular, middle voice. The question asks about origin, the gods and the generation of being. The answer the Muses give certainly addresses the generation of being but also asserts a radical differentiation as ‘chaos’. It is important to note that this radical differentiation is not an ‘eternal’ condition as the notion of eternity was a much later development. Chaos is better thought as a “modification of a radical differentiation”. Even in current physics (from early Greek notion phusis, translated in Latin, natura, as nature) time is a condition of differentiation.

In current physics, time-space is not absolute but arises purely locally as condition of mass and relative to inertial frames of reference. There is no ‘master clock’ in the universe. Absolute time and absolute space are relics of the past. Even on the most minute scale, time is local. Every human has mass. Every human creates their own time by virtue of their speed and mass relative to the earth. Therefore, a human on a mountain further away from the earth lives in a ‘time bubble’ of sorts that objectively and measurably moves faster than a human living in valley closer to the earth. The earth in this case is an ‘inertial frame’. A human, in this case, is a relative frame to the inertial frame of the earth. The earth is a relative frame to the inertial frame of the sun. The solar system is a relative frame to the inertial frame of the galaxy. The galaxy is a relative frame to the inertial frame of the universe. Any mass in the universe can be an inertial frame. Are there other inertial frames to the universe with other universes (multi-versus)? All of these relative frames converge to make a unique time clock for every human.9 Not only this, but we have a number of biological clocks including our circadian clock which converge to create memories of time events and the anticipation of time passing.10 All this is to point out that the differentiation of relative frames of reference creates time (and space) – not universal time which does not exist but time which in each and every case is uniquely mine.11 My time arises from incomprehensible differentiation. Even more, the negative of time is timelessness, no time, or what we might also think as eternity. Physicists from Einstein on have no reason to believe time exists at all according to relativity. Time is no different than a sensation like pleasure which has no root in any absolute ‘thing’ but arises from mind boggling differentiations. Better yet, for Levinas the Other is always diachronous to me, a time not my time.

Just as time has been made into a universal clock, chaos as radical differentiation has historically been reshaped into language as disorder (the negative of order), nothingness (the negative of something), the void (the negative of everything), the night (the negative of light) and neuter (the negative of gender). All of these tactics have given chaos a ready-made answer that cover over the radical notion that would confront us and confronted the Greeks in the time of Hesiod.12 What is more, history and language is our purely human ‘organ’ to create sense and meaning. However, the sense and meaning we are intent on creating wants to cover over and extinguish the ruptures in our language and meaning just as our ‘common sense’ wants to situate us in a Newtonian, absolute time and space. For Levinas the face of the other, the other that faces us, is a radical alterity from which we retreat to our totalizing pre-understanding of the Other, from the rupture of the he or the she or…even the it. What does Levinas mean by this?

Philosophy underestimates the extent of the negation in this ‘not appearing’ which exceeds the logical scope of negation and affirmation. It is the trace of a relationship with illeity *the other as “he” or “it,” i.e., as the moral call to justice] that no unity of apperception grasps, ordering me to responsibility.13

The ‘it’ comes ready-made by history and language. ‘It’ is ‘common sense’. If we want to think philosophically we must understand that these read-made notions were not available to Hesiod. If we simply take over our contemporaneous idea of the ‘it’ when we read Hesiod we do what scholars of ancient Greek literature (called philologists) call anachronistic (belonging to a period other than that being portrayed). In order to understand Hesiod we must let χάος [chaos] speak to us in proximity to what we can gleam from the texts we have and what scholars tell us of their context. We must relieve ourselves of the assumption that chaos was an ‘it’, devoid of life or gender. While the myths of the ancient Greeks indicate a kind of animate vitalization of phusis as we see in the pantheon of gods, the notion of ‘neuter’ in ancient Greek was ‘neither one or the other’ as in ‘not masculine or feminine’.14 The neuter was the ‘not’ in ancient Greek of gender. The negative does not specify a positive term as modern usage does of the ‘it’ (i.e., substance, inanimate objects, not alive, thing, etc.). Furthermore, as we will see later in this text χάος in Ancient Greek can be used in different ways including the feminine gender. What is more, even the idea of χάος as nothing, the void, night or disorder was inferred later.

Kirk and Raven are quick to point out that chaos does not mean void or nothingness. They also thought that “that something more complicated was meant by χάος [chaos] γένετ᾽ [came-to-being] than, simply, ‘sky and earth separated'”.

“In view of the basic meaning of χάος [chaos] (as a gap, i.e. a bounded interval, not ‘ void ‘ or anything like that), and of one certain fifth-century usage as the region between sky and earth, and of another use of the word in the Theogony in which the meaning is probably the same, serious attention must be paid to an interpretation propounded most notably by Cornford”…
“Cornford’s interpretation may be helped by the verb used to describe the first stage of cosmogony: not ἧν but γένετ᾽, perhaps implying that χάος [chaos] was not the eternal precondition of a differentiated world, but a modification of that precondition. (It is out of the question that Hesiod or his source was thinking of the originative substance as coming into being out of nothing.) The idea that earth and sky were originally one mass may have been so common that Hesiod could take it for granted, and begin his account of world-formation at the first stage of differentiation. This would be, undoubtedly, a cryptic and laconic procedure; and it seems probable that something more complicated was meant by χάος [chaos] γένετ᾽ [came-to-being] than, simply, ‘sky and earth separated’ – though I am inclined to accept that this was originally implicit in the phrase. The nature of the gap between sky and earth, after their first separation, may well have been somehow specified in the popular traditions on which Hesiod was presumably drawing.”15

Here is Cornford’s remark:

First of all Chaos came into being.’ There should be no doubt about the meaning of Chaos. Etymologically, the word means a yawning gap; and in the Greek poets, including Hesiod himself (Theog. 700), it denotes the gap or void space between sky and earth.16

Even in scholarship to follow, chaos was wrongly thought to refer to the ‘not’ – void and night. The darkness is thought in these citations as opposite light and thus, taken back into the ontology is what ‘is’. Kirk and Raven note:

“In the original cosmogonical account Night comes at an early and important stage; the tendency to rearrange the Hesiodic figures is already indicated for the sixth century (probably) ; Homer provided one piece of cryptic encouragement for a further elevation of Night; and added elaborations of the Hesiodic picture of the underworld tended to reinterpret Tartaros and Night as local forms of an originative chaos. These factors provide motive enough for Aristotle’s judgement in [Note 1 below]; and there seems to be little indication at present that the idea of an absolute priority of Night occurred early enough, or in a sufficiently independent form, to have had any effect on scientific cosmogonical thought. The isolated Homeric reference, cannot be assessed with any certainty: it may be simply a reference to the power of sleep, or it may be derived from a lost myth in which a personified Night had some special relationship to Zeus.”17

Note 1: “the ancient poets similarly, inasmuch as they say that not the first figures have rule and kingship (Night and Ouranos or Chaos or Okeanos, for example), but Zeus. (Cf. …those writers about the gods who generate from Night.)” Aristotle Met. N4, 1091ib4

Early on, ancient Greeks and more recent “scientific cosmogonical thought” took ‘night’ as the void Hesiod’s Muses were referring to with chaos. This appears to be a later development in the notion of chaos. The false equivalences of chaos with the ‘night’ and the void made possible comparisons with the creation myths in the Hebrew version of Genesis (creation ex-nihilo)18, the Muslim Qur’an19 and the Mesopotamian version of Enuma Elish20.

I take metaphors of the ‘night’ and the void to be the ancient roots of the ‘not’ most clearly worked out by Hegel. The ‘not’ and its mythopoetic ‘night’ are an ingenious tactics to reduce paradox, being and chaos, to what Levinas calls the ‘said’ in “Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence”. Additionally, the joining of the verb ‘came-to-be’ in both the question and the answer in Hesiod’s mythopoetic cosmogony tell us in a very Muse-like fashion that when the ‘said’ of origin and being is questioned by its at-home-ness in itself, its founding, with ‘chaos’, it has a tendency to ask the question in a fashion that already ‘knows’ and ‘holds on to’ a prior understanding of the tautological necessity of ‘coming-to-be’. Therefore, with regard to chaos, only the Muses were equipped to hold a riddle in an answer which perceives the questioner’s inability to dislodge themselves from origin and being while simultaneously disturbing the essentialist claim to authenticity, the fixation of the ‘said’ in itself. These topics will be dealt with in more detail a little later in this post.

Whether or not chaos was a preexisting condition or a modification of a preexisting condition or whether or not it refers to sky and earth21, nothingness, darkness, etc. as Greek philology has argued, this passage certainly wants to assert a vast differentiation into the question of generation, a radical alterity which does not belong or originate from the verb’s middle voice in the generation to being (came-to-be). Chaos asserts a vast differentiation into the question of generation, a radical alterity which does not belong or originate from being (came-to-be). Drew Hyland tells us:

Difficult as it may be to understand, however counter to our intuitions that if Chaos is a gap or separation it must somehow separate something, I suggest we should take Hesiod’s Greek in the passage under consideration to be indicating this truly remarkable thought: that Chaos, gap, separation, comes before, is prior to, any pairings that it might subsequently separate. Difference precedes and is the condition for sameness or identity. The “between” somehow precedes the binaries that it distinguishes. At work in Hesiod’s words, I suggest, is a thought that goes deeper than the argument over which are the first two entities that in fact get separated and distinguished by Chaos-earth and sky, or earth and Tartaros. At work, in addition, is the crucial if very difficult ontological principle that difference somehow precedes sameness or identity.22

The noun ‘chaos’ (χάος) in the Muse’s answer to Hesiod is neutral. However, there has been discussion by scholars on whether chaos is neutral, male, female, gender-neutral or sexually indeterminate. It seems fitting that chaos as radically differential could not be assigned an ‘it’, a ‘he’, a ‘she’ or something other. This is important because it is common these days to think that neutral, gender neutral, or sexually indeterminate must be an ‘it’. However, an ‘it’ as we understand is already a determination of being which would not be an option to Hesiod. The mythology of Hesiod’s day indicates that what we think as “its” were not dead things but animated with powers and human-like characteristics. In order to understand the setting of Hesiod’s Theogony, it is important to try to pry ourselves away from our modern ‘science’ oriented notions of matter as undergirded by mechanical processes that we understand as a kind of collection of ‘dead’ ‘its’. These easy notions of nature, physics (Φνσις, phusis), were not available in Hesiod’s time. Therefore, the notion of ‘chaos’ had a gender indeterminacy. Kaitlyn Boulding sums it up like this:

On my reading, the most important aspect of Chaos is that it is distinctly nonmale. Although grammatically neuter, Chaos is either characterized as female, a gender-neutral deity,[23] or a “sexually indeterminate figure.”[24] An aspect of Chaos’ gender is its ability to generate offspring through parthenogenesis. Chaos introduces its characteristic indefinable obscurity into the world through its progeny Erebos and Night (Nux), who are begotten through self-differentiation.[25] This parthenogenetic production introduces children that reiterate the features of their parent. In contrast, through sexual union, Night and Erebos produce children who represent a greater degree of definition in the figuration of Brightness (Aither) and Day (Hêmeros),[26] a procreation that points to the way that Hesiod uses sexual generation as a driving force behind the progression of the succession myth, as I expand upon below. I argue that Chaos begins as a disordered force, which contrasts with the ordering male forces that follow and through the introduction of sexual generation it too is responsible for the introduction of an embryonic form of order.27

The subject ‘chaos’ and the verb ‘came-to-be’ may indicate a retreat away from the subject which actually gives rise to being. Could the “modification of that precondition” was “something more complicated” than what “was meant by χάος [chaos] γένετ᾽”? What is meant by the Muses reply of chaos as ‘first’. From my Hesiod discussion previously cited let’s remember this:

“Hesiod asks a question of the Muses. The Muses are female goddesses. They are the birth, origin and keepers of art and knowledge. Hesiod asks which of the gods was the first that “came-to-be”. A conundrum is embedded in Hesiod’s question. Namely, how can the first come to be? The Muses were fond of play and gaiety. As such, they reply in kind to Hesiod that “truly” and “verily” the first, Chaos, came-to-be. In the very first reply to Hesiod, the ‘truth’ is at play in the Muses. The Muses here are speaking as one even though there are nine Muses. Even in this, there is already play of the ‘one and the many’, harmony and cacophony, the doubling of the signature. What is more, Hesiod’s question preconditions the answer given by the ‘one and the many’ Muses. Hesiod asks, “from the beginning [archê, ἀρχῆς], tell who first of them (the gods) came-to-be [genet’, γένετ᾽]”?”…
“The Muses, in notably un-myth like language, do not declare a god as the first. Instead, in one voice they playfully undue their unison by first directly answering Hesiod’s question that chaos was first. The unity of the Muse’s voice is undone in their answer of the first, the primal lack of unity and presence. Chaos in this case is given as differentiation without prerequisite.”…
“The Muses state plainly that the very first was chaos. Then, with deference to the question they add to “First of all Chaos” with “came-to-be”, genet’. Hesiod is asking for the first, how it came-to-be (genet’), and they tell him chaos but with the same supplement in Hesiod’s question, genet’. The wisdom of this statement is along the lines of “First of all Chaos”. How can chaos come-to-be if it was first? Isn’t this a contradiction? Contradiction would not bother a Muse. However, what would bother a Muse is mere contradiction; so boring. Instead, a deeper thread, a secret meaning was always more fun for a Muse.”…
“Instead of the one and many voices of the Muses giving one answer to Hesiod, they give him two in one…now that is more like a Muse. The Muses are not contradicting themselves or giving an infinite regression but giving Hesiod the answer he wants [the only answer he can understand] and more. The answer has exceeded the expectation of the question as it MUST since the question marks a limit to what an answer should be (i.e., does ‘what was the first’ ask for a chicken or an egg and how would the answer ever decide the question?). Instead of a declaratory, apophantic, answer, the Muses transcend the limits of the question with a double answer which the Muses testify to as “now surely, truly, verily” “indeed, of a truth”. Additionally, according to Miller, Hesiod had no way, given the tools of his mythopoeic language, to think the ‘first’ without a coming-to-be. Additionally, the lapse of the mythopoeic style in this one phrase was not a necessary lapse. Hesiod could have written this in a form more true to the overall style of the poem but he didn’t. This can either be ignored as an omission of Hesiod (or an addition of someone else) or intentional and a mark of an emphasis of some type.”28

Before ontology came to be thought as óntōs (ὄντως), before the beginning prior to origin, anarchic to origin, the ancient Greeks left an undoing of the text-to-be in an immeasurable gap. At the preface of Occidental history of logos, the Hegelian Idea and Heideggerian ontology an erasure stands as an undoing of the text to come prioritizing chaos, a gap which being can never bridge or overcome.

It is important that in one of the most important accounts at the dawn of ancient Greek philosophy, how being, came-to-be (genet’), was answered by the jesting Muses in a rare directness, as radical disjuncture, as chaos. Before logos (where we get our word logic) we find the question of origin, of beginning, answered as radical interruption, as anarchy (an-archê, ἀν-αρχία; no origin). Anarchy disrupts origin as the impossibility of origin. Origin must generate being in retreat from the absolute void of chaos, the gap. Coming-to-be is not completed in logos but left open by chaos. Ancient Greek philosophy must ever after be read from the riddle of origin. Origin must be said from logos which, in its fullest moment, undoes and erases itself as chaos, an unbridgeable gap.

It is my conjecture that the yawning gap, prior to origin, is an unaccounted-for excess which I think finds echoes all the way through ancient Greek philosophy. In that erasure before the text is given there is a proxy, a substitute, yet to be spoken for what Levinas thinks as the Other; a past which is not my past or even a past which can find no arche’. Thus much later, ancient Greek chaos can anarchically be maintained as a face, a face in the Other of Levinas. The self’s retreat form the face of the Other is also foreshadowed by the inseparable suggestion from Judaism as wanderer, sojourner, as without a home or dwelling. I would suggest that there are strains all the way through ancient Greek thought which still wrestle with anarchy prior to the beginning, the undoing of the text prior to its unfolding, spoken in Hesiod’s Muses as chaos. The following thoughts are just thinking out loud and would require a lot more work – more like a career.

Perhaps in Heraclitus, there are fundamental critiques of essentialism posed from rivers which cannot be stepped in twice. In contrast to Parmenides, Heraclitus radically questioned any such notion as the same while also not working out his notion of the unity of opposites, at least that we know. He had an early notion of the logos where the idea of paradox seems to apply more than the idea of rationality (ratio) which really had not been worked out yet. Some of his fragments indicate humans ‘hearing’ the logos but failing to notice and forgetting as when they are asleep. His notion of ever new waters seem to have a poet allusion to what cannot be taken up by thought. Yet, later he was made into one of the founders of ontology along with Parmenides as the philosopher of becoming. His idea that we are and are not was criticized by Plato as reality can never be (‘is’) in such a flux. His influence in later Greek thought such as Stoicism cannot be minimized. It seems to me that chaos cannot be far flung in Heraclitus.

In Anaximander,

“Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
As is the order of things;
For they execute the sentence upon one another
– The condemnation for the crime –
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.”

don’t we have a destruction of origin? We have a crime, could it be a murder, for the “order of things”. We have a condemnation “whence things have their origin” in conformity to [Being and] Time. We also have Diogenes telling us,

Anaximander son of Praxiades, of Miletus: he said that the principle and element is the Indefinite, not distinguishing air or water or anything else…29

The Greek word ‘indefinite’ here is apeiron.30 It means “unlimited,” “boundless”, “infinite”, or “indefinite”. Just as we use the ‘a’ in ‘ahistorical’ to mean not historic or without history, the ‘a’ in apeiron means without form, limit or boundary since peirar (πεῖραρ) means, “end”, “limit” or “boundary”. The Ionic Greek form is peras (πέρας) meaning “end”, “limit” or “boundary”. For Anaximander, apeiron seems to function somewhat as Hesiod’s cosmological notion of ‘chaos’. It generates and destroys the opposites; it differentiates. It has no form as we might think of chaos and somehow makes difference possible. This difference, this yawning gap, is a source (origin) and annihilation of form. Being (came-to-be) is not some eternal, static state but begins and ends with the infinite.

Charles Kahn tells us that for Hesiod and Homer apeiron refers to earth and sea which has limits. Hesiod speaks of “sources and limits” where Earth, Tartarus, Sea, and Heaven converge.

Аπειρος [apeiron] (together with its Homeric equivalents ἀπείρων, ἀπείριτος, απειρέσιος, απερέίσιος) is obviously a compound with a-privative, but the precise form of the simplex is not quite so clear. Is it correct to assume (with LSJ and others) that απειρος is derived from the noun πείραρ, περας, “limit” ? In that case the literal meaning of the adjective would be “devoid of limits, boundless.” But although “boundless” is often a convenient translation for απειρος, it does not really answer to the usage of the term. In the epic, ἀπείρων is the characteristic epithet of earth and sea, particularly the former.’ Neither earth nor sea is devoid of limits, and in fact the poet speaks repeatedly of the πείρατα of both. So Hesiod describes the place where the “sources and limits” (πηγαί καί πείρατα) of Earth, Tartarus, Sea, and Heaven converge {Theog. 736-38 = 807-9), although for him too both Earth and Sea are ἀπείριτος {Theog. 109, 878, etc.).31

Can we think that sources and limits and the boundless have some undeciphered poetic simile to came-to-be [genet’] and chaos [χάος]? Charles Kahn tells us,

In the context of a cosmogony, of course, this idea of “starting point, foundation” has also a direct temporal sense: the ἀρχή [origin, archê (ᾰ̓ρχή) ] the first and eldest of things, from which all others arise in the course of time. …
Many modern interpreters, following a remark of Aristotle, have supposed that these principles must themselves have been present in their source before generation, and that the απειρον [apeiron] was therefore a kind of mixture, similar to the primeval mingling of things in the cosmogony of Anaxagoras. But such a view of Anaximander’s Boundless is basically anachronistic, in that it presupposes the criticism of Parmenides. After him, the generation of something essentially new was considered an impossibility, but in the sixth century γένεοις [origin, source] was taken for granted as an obvious fact of nature. Furthermore, Theophrastus assures us that the απειρον [apeiron] was no mixture, but “one Φνσις [phusis, physics] ” {Phys. Opin. fr. 4, cited under 7). From the Aristotelian viewpoint, the opposites were of course potentially present in their source. But for a Milesian they were no more pre-existent in the απειρον than children pre-exist in the body of their parents before conception.32

Kahn goes on to tell us that perhaps consistency was not a value of the old poets.

Let’s also not forget the “good beyond being” of Plato. Robert Bernasconi tells us,

“Whereas for Heidegger the forgotten experience is that of Being, for Levinas – and he invests Plato’s formula with an anti-Heideggerian ring – it is that of “being” but of “the good beyond being,” which he also calls “metaphysical exteriority,” “transcendence,” and “infinity.” The good surpasses “being,” “objectifying thought,” “objective experience,” “totality,” and history.”33

What other possibilities can we think in Aristotle’s non-being as privation? Could we think a “passivity prior to receptivity” thought as non-being?

We also have these accounts from Aristotle:

Everything has an origin [archê] or is an origin. The Boundless [apeiron] has no origin. For then it would have a limit. Moreover, it is both unborn and immortal, being a kind of origin. For that which has become has also, necessarily, an end, and there is a termination to every process of destruction.34
We cannot say that the apeiron has no effect, and the only effectiveness which we can ascribe to it is that of a principle. Everything is either a source or derived from a source. But there cannot be a source of the apeiron, for that would be a limit of it. Further, as it is a beginning, it is both uncreatable and indestructible. For there must be a point at which what has come to be reaches completion, and also a termination of all passing away. That is why, as we say, there is no principle of this, but it is this which is held to be the principle of other things, and to encompass all and to steer all, as those assert who do not recognize, alongside the infinite, other causes, such as Mind or Friendship. Further they identify it with the Divine, for it is ‘deathless and imperishable’ as Anaximander says, with the majority of the physicists.35

The primacy of ethics in Greek thinking from the Cynics, the Stoics, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle cannot be underestimated. The Cynics were highly influenced by Socratic ignorance. Wisdom is ethics while logic is a tool which can be employed in the service of ethics but not as an end in itself. Virtue was pervasively favored above knowledge. It seems to me the Heideggerian ‘wrong turn’ in logos he thought as presence was missed by Heidegger as the ‘wrong turn’ started much earlier in remnants of chaos which could never come to presence even as the Muses declared anarchically. The impossibility of chaos and ethics could never be brought into the presence. It could not be brought into ontology and early hints would later be discounted as an impossibility which fueled the history of being as retreat. In the history of ontology, chaos and ethics could never be thought with the priority of Ethics for Levinas. Only with the radical alterity of the Other could chaos be de-neutered and the face give way to Ethics.

I am not looking for an essence in these questions only a trace, a hint of a gap which logos cannot envelop. What is metaphysics? Is it Being suspended over nothing? Is it Desire which is not satisfied but deepened? Could it be that totalizing the Other necessarily implies effacing the Other as nothing and non-being? Could nothing and non-being be a confusion which must forever repress the yawning gap which has yet to be given face as the Other? Dare we ask, could this gap which awaited the other be thought in terms of messianic eschatology?

It was said of Levinas that he wanted to translate Hebrew into Greek but I would suggest the possibility that ancient Greek anarchy awaited Hebrew for a face, the Other. What would it mean to dare think the thought – translate Greek into Hebrew?36

_________________

1 Philosophy Today

Volume 32, Issue 2, Summer 1988

Richard A. Cohen

Pages 165-178

DOI: 10.5840/philtoday198832222

“LEVINAS, ROSENZWEIG, AND THE PHENOMENOLOGIES OF HUSSERL AND HEIDEGGER”

Richard A. Cohen

2 Professor Cohen notes that already in the preface of “Totality and Infinity”, the credits to Rosenzweig and Husserl are a “corrective” to what inevitably must be “ill understood” in the said which is emphasized in Levinas’ masterwork. In Husserl we see the concrete observation of phenomenology in the intentional adequation of conscious to its objects towards the intentionality of transcendental apperception which breaks up and is founded by the noema of a noesis “by a forgotten experience from which it lives”. Yet, Professor Cohen maintains with Levinas that “By defining consciousness as intentional from top to bottom, from the most transcendent to the most immanent significations, as intentional even in its own self-constitution, phenomenology sees no exit from the circuit of noema and noesis”. Professor Cohen goes on to maintain that Rosenzweig’s “The Star” sets up mercy and justice against the conceptual totalizing of the noetic-noematic totality of phenomenology. In the interruption of conceptualizing by mercy and justice Levinas finds the face of the Other. Professor Cohen sees at the beginning of “Totality and Infinity”, in the preface, an end that announces in advance Levinas’ later work “Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence”; a circularity of the text which deepens with every iteration of the reading of the text. Hence, the observation of a “beginning prior to the origin”.

3 Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

4 chaos (χάος)

5 archê (ᾰ̓ρχή)

6 genet’ (γένετ᾽)

7 Hesiod, Theogony, 115

8 G.S. Kirk, J.E. Raven, M. Schofield, “The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History”, 1983:31, page 37

9 “Time and the Twin Paradox – Does time tick by at the same rate for everyone?”, A Matter of Time, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, January 2012, Volume 306, Issue 1s

10 “Times of Our Lives” and “Remembering When”, A Matter of Time, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, January 2012, Volume 306, Issue 1s

11 A Matter of Time, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, January 2012, Volume 306, Issue 1s; This whole issue has fantastic articles on Time from many different disciplines. It substantiate the ideas on Time I have discussed here.

12 The Impossible Possibility of Paradox – Part One

13 Emmanuel Levinas, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1998) , 167, 168, 169.

Also Cited by Richard A. Cohen in The Face of the Other, Ethics as First Philosophy: Two Types of Philosophy in the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas , Delivered as keynote address on August 1, 2013, at conference on “Culture and Philosophy as Ways of Life in Times of Global Change,” School of Philosophy, University of Athens, Athens, Greece, pg. 11

14 neuter – not either, neither of the two

neuter (adj.) – late 14c., of grammatical gender, “neither masculine nor feminine,” from Latin neuter “of the neuter gender,” literally “neither one nor the other,” from ne- “not, no” (from PIE root *ne- “not”) + uter “either (of two)” (see whether). Probably a loan-translation of Greek oudeteros “neither, neuter.” In 16c., it had the sense of “taking neither side, neutral.”

15 Ibid., 1983:32, page 38, 39

16 “THE UNWRITTEN PHILOSOPHY AND OTHER ESSAYS”, BY F. M. CORNFORD, CAMBRIDGE AT THE UNIVE RSITY PRESS, 1950, pg. 98

17 Ibid., 1983:18, page 20

18 Jewish Encyclopedia, CREATION, By: Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch; The conception of creation ex-nihilo in Genesis has been brought into question as this article points out: “The bringing into existence of the world by the act of God. Most Jewish philosophers find in  (Gen. i. 1) creation ex nihilo (). The etymological meaning of the verb , however, is “to cut out and put into shape,” and thus presupposes the use of material. This fact was recognized by Ibn Ezra and Naḥmanides, for instance (commentaries on Gen. i. 1; see also Maimonides, “Moreh Nebukim,” ii. 30), and constitutes one of the arguments in the discussion of the problem.”

19 Creatio Ex Nihilo and the Literal Qur’an, Abdulla Galadari; “For the purposes of this article, I define Muslim creationism as a belief in God creating things out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo); this belief is held by those who have a literal understanding of the Qur’an. The concept of creation ex nihilo was debated by early Muslim theologians and philosophers with a wide array of views (Fackenheim, 1947;Alusi, 1968). Many Orthodox Muslims today have been influenced by one of the most in influential Islamic philosophical schools, the Ash’ari school, which has long debated the concept of creatio ex nihilo. However, even their rival, the Mu’tazili theological school of thought, equally accepts the concept of creatio ex nihilo, and some of its philosophical stances still exist within some Shi’i schools. These theological (kalam) schools of thought were influenced by Greek philosophy, and the concept of creatio ex nihilo may have come from Greek philosophy, and not from what the Qur’an had initially intended.”

20 “When in the height heaven was not named, And the Earth beneath did not yet bear a name, And the primeval Apsu, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both Their waters were mingled together, And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the gods none had been called into being, And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained; Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven, Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being…”

21 Ibid., 1983:32, page 39

“The conception that earth and sky were originally one mass may have been so common (sec pp. 32-4) that Hesiod could take it for granted, and begin his account of world-formation at the first stage of differentiation. This would be, undoubtedly, a cryptic and laconic procedure; and it seems probable that something more complicated was meant by χάος γένετ᾽ than, simply, ‘sky and earth separated ‘

though I am inclined to accept that this was originally implicit in the phrase.”

22 Drew A. Hyland; “First of All Came Chaos”, Heidegger and the Greeks: Interpretive Essays, Kindle Edition, page 13

23 Mondi, Robert. 1989. “ΧΑΟΣ and the Hesiodic Cosmogony.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 92: 1-44.

24 Park, Arum. 2014. “Parthenogenesis in Hesiod’s Theogony.” Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural. 3.2: 261-83.

Philippson, Paula. 1936. Genealogie als mythische Form. Oslo.

Gigon, O. 1945. Der Ursprung der greichischen Philosophie. Basel.

Kaitlyn Boulding: “Park (2014: 268, 280, note 24) notes that it is unclear how gender should be assigned to Chaos as well as the other three abstractions. However, “their relations and interactions with one another identify them as male, female, or neuter beings. The isolation of Chaos confirms its grammatical neutrality: it does not copulate or even interact with any other entity, male or female.” Attributing a neuter reading of Chaos based on parthenogenesis seems strange in an article wherein Park argues that parthenogenesis is a specifically feminine ability. See also P. Philippson 1936: 7–42. = 1966: 651–87 and Gigon 1945: 29–30.”

25 Kaitlyn Boulding : “Hes. Th. 123-125. Park (2014: 267) sees this parthenogenetic reproduction as the development of the same from the same, as opposed to the sexual reproduction between Night and darkness which produces Bright Air and Day (Hes. Th. 124-25). Clay (2003: 27) also notes that this is a more “progressive” generation, which “marks the beginning of time” measurably by the alteration of Night and Day.”

26 Kaitlyn Boulding : “Hes. Th. 211-232. The conceptual children born from Night are black Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Fates, the Dooms, the Spinners, Resentment, Deceit, Intimacy, Old Age, and Strife. Park (2014: 267) argues that Night’s children, though not generally constructive,”demonstrate the early function of parthenogenesis in establishing the timeless truths of existence, albeit the negative side of it.” Fritz Graf notes that these children are “the destructive powers that lurk in the depths of all being” (1993: 84). Zeus subordinates and sublimates the Fates (Morai) in the conclusion of the Theogony. See below on Hes. Th. 903-904. ”

27 Gastêr, Nêdys, and Thauma: Feminine Sources of Deception and Generation in Hesiod’s Theogony by Kaitlyn Boulding

28 Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

29 Diogenes Laertius n, 1-2 (DKi2Ai]

30 apeiron (ἄπειρον)

31 ANAXIMANDER AND THE ORIGINS OF GREEK COSMOLOGY, By CHARLES H. KAHN, (Hackett Publishing Company 1994), pg. 231, Also see pg.81

32 Ibid., 1994, pg. 236

33 “Levinas and Derrida,” in Richard A. Cohen, ed., Face-to-Face with Levinas (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), 185.

34 Aristotle, Physics 203b6-10

35 Aristotle, Physics 3.4; 203b

36 The thesis put forward here raises some more interesting questions which I will attempt to explore further in subsequent posts:

Given the idea that Hesiod’s cosmogony mistook the face of Levinas’ Other for chaos, does this make sense in terms of the later development, not available to Hesiod, of the notions of metaphysics in Aristotle, the Latin world, Descartes, transcendence in Kant and Husserl, Hegel’s absolutism of Idea (Begriff), etc.? In other words, when Hesiod faced the other of his day would chaos be an understandable retreat from the face of the Other just as the subsequent diachronous ventures of history and language produced (e.g., the totalizing of ontology)? Can we assume that the face of the Other for Hesiod was the radical alterity of Levinas? Does mistaking the face of the Other for chaos and the highly prevalent emphasis in ancient Greek and Latin culture on ethics reinforce the idea that Levinasian Ethics may have been at work in mistaking chaos for the Other?

If we take evolution as fact, when did the Other face us in absolute otherness? Were all hominids evoked by the face of the Other or only homosapien? Were other genus’ implicated by the radical alterity of the Other? If so, how?

Does chaos theory in contemporary science relate to radical otherness? If so, how? What about the implications of quantum theory and Schrödinger’s cat in the box? Does the uncertainty principle and the apparent malleability of what ‘is’ determined by observation have anything to do with radical alterity and the retreat from the face of the Other. More succinctly, do we face an other, a radical alterity, even in the ‘it’ of physics?

 

 

The Triumph of Will in Donald Trump

The duplicity of the contemporaneous Republican Party has never been so apparent. On one hand, we see the public carrot of luring their base into ‘free market capitalism’. Aspirations of exorbitant wealth as evidenced in the lavish, luxury clad life of Donald Trump. On the other hand, the real engine of Republican ideology has been shown in the stick. Potency and virility show themselves in the cameo phrase “your fired”. Discussion and cooperation find its limit in the determinative declarative where indeterminacy gives way to sheer unrelenting power. Will overcomes contingency. Here, then, is the gravity which defines all possibility: autocracy.

Donald Trump symbolizes the sheer resolve of Nietzsche’s ‘of the past, I willed it thus’. In Trump, his devotees are freed from their daily tedious lives and vicariously share in the reward of an untethered affirmation of existence. As is always true of the heroic, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Never mind his inherited blue blood privileges, he is a business genius. Never mind making sense of his inherit verbal nonsense and contradiction, he is a “stable genius”. Never mind his ‘pussy grabbing’, ethnic posturing xenophobia, he is simply expressing boldly and freely his joyous reign in absolute freedom. The heroic of Nietzsche is reawakened in the existential brut-ness of aspirational phantasma. In Trump, finally, the damned are redeemed and ushered into virginal bliss.

There has never been a time that so clearly exemplifies the gospel of unabashed greed and tyranny. Trump sees friendship, allies and international cooperation as ‘weak’. He sees kleptocracy, dictatorship and authoritarianism as ‘strong’. It is not just Trump; Republicanism since Barry Goldwater has suckled its sweet milk at the nipples of ‘strong leadership’, patriarchal Reagan-ism, the jubilant triumph of ‘supply-side’ massaged, ‘free-market-capitalism’. The ‘good ol boy’ has been elevated to CEO and private ownership. Monopoly and market manipulation have found new owners in government regulation and corporatism. Thus, the burden of inefficiency has been replaced with the bureaucracy of federalism. In all of these subtleties the metaphysic of unhampered will has replaced collectivity, cooperation and even more, language.

Language no longer need be obligated to the oppressive lord of logic, rationality and facts. Facts are free whims and desires of power not symbols which point beyond their sheer signifier. Trump has said the most ludicrous babel which gets re-appropriated as mystic, untethered assertion. Assertion as asserted-ness in itself, sufficient from within, hermetically jubilant in self-same-ness. Identity is finally achieved in ‘nothing but’ tautologies where true is replaced by ‘is’. Sheer-isness is the eternal desire for godhood, released from mortal bonds, and ready to find its fascist moment in history.

The latest refinement of this from Republicanism is Donald Trump. His base has cleverly ascertained the implicit meaning of Republicanism since Goldwater. They are the fulfillment and completion of the promise of the triumph of will over merely-human and all the while they live on the hither side of the moat beside the castle as the grass grows under their feet.

Cory Gardner Votes With Trump 90% of the Time

Check it for yourself. Colorado needs to wake up and smell the coffee – Cory Gardner is as hard right as Trump and all the other clowns running the White House. His real passion which he overtly lies about is anti-abortion. Anti-abortion folks along with the Federalist Society have been organized, subversive and lying to the majority of Americans that have consistently, for decades, been pro-choice. These Trumpsters are the latest manifestation of the strong anti-democracy alliance on the right which finds itself aligned with the likes of Putin and his lynch men. If you are appalled you have not been paying attention. These elitists quit believing in practical democracy decades ago. Oh sure, they try to have the pretty face and the seemingly moderate words but the modern face of totalitarianism started decades ago when the Federalist Society organized a military styled coup against the precedence set by the Supreme Court on the Second Amendment. Not only were Americans duped in the 2016 election but they have been manipulated for decades now by the mainstream, right-wing media-Fox News. The right’s rotten core at the heart of American democracy favoring lies over facts to further their elitist ambitions has now become clearly evident since Helsinki.

Starting with Barry Goldwater and the John Birch Society the Republican Party has increasingly been running away from the cherished ideal as the “Party of Lincoln” towards angry and bitter epithets of disenfranchisement and the perceived loss of aspirational entitlements which has resulted in the resurgence of bigotry and delusional revisionist histories reinforced over and over again by the constant barrage of “fake news” by Fox News. Their giant philosophical “NO” long ago replaced any abhorrence to slavery with the “cultural icons of the pre-Civil war South” and “voter ID” as a thinly veiled pretense given succinctly by: Jonah “Goldberg
has suggested giving new voters the same citizenship test—featuring questions about U.S. history and government—that new citizens must take. “We might get fewer voters, but the voters would be far more likely to appreciate the solemnity of their ballots,” he wrote.
(
The conservative case to limit voting
) Lincoln would be surprised to find the resurgence of Jim Crow laws in the presidential Party that went to war over slavery. When some Republicans finally wake up and realize that their Party died after decades of elitist and authoritarian power grabs based on intentionally manipulated deep rooted resentments which prey on the most selfish and despicable roots of humanity (that also motivated fascism after the German loss of World War 1 and the Versailles Treaty), will the damage be beyond reparation for our once thriving democracy? Right now, the dead weight on our democracy appears overwhelming.

The stunning silence of the Republican Party and Cory Gardner is only the most ugly moment of a movement which has been gaining momentum for decades. Please do not get me wrong, I really wish there was a viable “Party of Lincoln”. While logical and reasonable, fact-based arguments are hard to come by in Conservatism these days we really need that from the right more than ever. However, the paranoid hollow gust of wind-blown rhetoric from cadavers of rotting apoplectic and unabated narcissism is all politicians like Cory Gardner can deliver albeit on a bed of sweet smelling roses.

Just take a look at the 90% voting record with the Trump-King of a megalomaniacal Narcissus as all the proof you will ever need that Colorado can no longer tolerate the “beauty” of Cory Gardner.

Narcissus

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance or public perception.

 

PS – Cory, Please do not send me yet another ridiculously worded form response which formally finds its way to the trash bin.

Are Liberals Fascists or the Opportunity for Fascism to Flourish? You Decide…

There has been a lot of pure garbage on the net about liberals being fascists of the Nazi variety. People who espouse this nonsense probably took their cues from a very conservative journalist, Jonah Goldberg, in a book called “Liberal Fascism”. Jonah was a journalist for the National Review, originally started by William F. Buckley. Buckley had a show for many years I watched on PBS called, “Firing Line”. Although, I disagreed with many of his arguments based on logical fallacies, I did appreciate a show where arguments could be developed more fully and both sides could get a fair hearing. Buckley died in 2008, the same year Goldberg published “Liberal Fascism”. The book was not written in the style set by Buckley but was very fanciful to the point of not only not giving the history of German fascism a well-researched treatment but to the point where the vast majority of scholars which research that time period in Germany, thought of it as purely fabricated and an intentional gross revision of history. Professor Paul Bookbinder writes this about the liberals and conservatives of this time in Germany:

The parties on the left were strong supporters of progressive taxation, government social welfare programs, labor unions, equality and economic opportunity for women. They were less nationalistic, militaristic and antisemitic than the parties on the right. They favored greater government involvement in—and control of—business and industry and were to varying degrees anti-religious. Still, there were strong differences and major conflicts between the two major leftist parties. The Social Democrats were strong supporters of the Republic and democracy while the Communists were opposed to both, favoring a Russian style communist dictatorship. The parties on the right were strongly nationalistic and supported large military. They were opposed to social welfare programs, labor unions and progressive taxation. They favored an economy directed by industrialists and landowners with large estates. They were antisemitic and favored traditional roles for women. The Nationalists were a more traditional Conservative Party, while the National Socialists were a radical party wanting revolutionary change. Both parties publicly supported the Churches and the role of religion in society but some elements in the Nazi Party harbored hostility to traditional religion.1

I highly recommend this essay on the political parties of that era. In any case, does this description remind you more of Democrats or Republicans? Please, do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that all Republicans are fascists as that would be ludicrous. I am merely making the point that, historically speaking, the fascists had more in common with what we think of now as conservative ideology than liberal ideology. This directly contradicts Goldberg’s thesis. Those that parrot Goldberg’s fantasies on the web are quite content to ignore much evidence to the contrary. The real problem we are facing is that many on the web do not seem to believe there are facts that may or may not confirm their beliefs. They simply want to emote their beliefs without critical thought or challenge.

Personally, I find this to be a serious and deadly threat to democracy. Once we have a critical mass of people that could care less about any objective reality apart from themselves, we have achieved a fatal blow to democracy itself. Democracy cannot survive on baseless opinions. Democracies were fashioned in the critical kilns of Enlightenment which valued the ability of the individual to think critically and make more sound judgements. Once folks have lost the desire to research facts, they do not put the work into trying to base their opinions on established facts and well-reasoned logic. Additionally, they are susceptible to our highly sophisticated marketing culture which, over time, can reinforce thoughts and beliefs on many subjects combined with group and peer support.

Donald Trump is not a fact-based person. He has contradicted himself and lied so much that the only apparent reason he has for it is manipulation. He, along with Fox News (started by a gossip rag publisher) have effectively created a cult of true believers. Facts mean absolutely nothing to these folks. There have been indictments and guilty pleas which every responsible citizen should read. The bulk of these travesties are yet to come out in the Mueller investigation but there is no doubt, based on the vast wealth of information we now know, that Trump is guilty of obstruction (even Giuliani recently admitted Trump was guilty of obstruction and could be impeached unless they manipulate public opinion to his favor!). And this does not even start on collusion with the Russians. There are many in his campaign and current staff that had complicated business relations and political favors with the Russian government. Trump’s own son has stated that the Russians were very happy to fund his golf courses. How can 75% of Republicans, who in the recent past were highly suspect of the Russians, belittle this and write it off as all lies and Democratic manipulation of the FBI, CIA and, Trumps own high-level, appointments in the Justice Department?

It is obvious. For many years Fox News and politicians have fostered in their viewers the idea that the Federal Government is the source of all their problems. If the only authority which can be trusted is Fox News and far right politicians, then only they can be trusted to be the purveyors of truth. Facts? Research? Other views, simply written off. Hitler called this simply, “propaganda” – everyone should read “Mein Kampf” (translated “My Fight”) lest we repeat the past we forgot. Trump supporters want to physically fight journalists, gays, liberals, blacks, Hispanics, etc. but they consistently do not want to fight me with well-reasoned arguments. I am not a small guy. I have been lifting heavy weights for decades. Yet, I know that a physical fight will solve absolutely nothing. That sentiment would only serve to fester the instability of social cohesion. Even more so, a physical fight over issues of beliefs is a full and complete admonition that one cannot defend their position. It is an arrogant profession of ignorance. It is the mindless act of brute force over everything that brought us out of the caves. I prefer to either: 1) win an argument based on facts and research or 2) learn something I did not know before. However, I am no pushover. If you want to play with me you better be willing to do the same work I will do to get to the real facts of the issue. I have no need to ‘know everything’. I am quite content to profess ignorance and make my sole mission only to learn what I do not know. I know that both participants in a good argument are benefited by the facts and logic exercised in the process.

Why have I made these points? In Nazi Germany there were many conservatives and liberals that kept their mouth shut and allowed Hitler and his assassins to take charge of Germany when there was an opportunity to impact the horrific tragedies to come. I am of the firm opinion that we are starting down the road to the Third Reich2, albeit perhaps only the First Reich at this point. Do yourself a favor and look at the history of the Reich. All of us need to make a concerted effort to get to the facts and create logical consistency in our thinking. This is the most historically pressing need of our time. Those that will not or do not make a stand against what is happening are a fatal part of the problem. There certainly is a time when silence and withholding judgement are important – this is not that time. At some point those that know better and prefer appeasement and silence are just as culpable as the aggressors. If we let this current infection foster, our democracy will be its corpse. Please vote and let others know in no uncertain way that what Trump and his supporters are doing is not only wrong but highly dangerous!

_________________

1 Weimar Political Parties

2 Reich (/ ˈ r aɪ k /; German: (listen) is a German word literally meaning “realm”. The terms Kaiserreich (literally “realm of an emperor”) and Königreich (literally “realm of a king”) are used in German to refer to empires and kingdoms respectively.

Trump Supporters are Traitors

Our young men and women in the military are fighting allies of Russia all over the world and yet, here in this country Trump supporters are voting and supporting, unwittingly, the Russian candidate and now President Donald Trump. Well, it can longer be unwitting. Now they know and they still support the Russian President of our country. Russians have been bailing Trump out financially for years. Trump has not enforced the sanctions against Russia both Republicans and Democrats voted for. He has not said one peep about the Russian interference much less done anything about it. All of his tweets after the indictments are obvious and ignorant attempts to cover his ass from something he does not want to come to light. He cannot act like a President only like a common criminal. Those that support this kind of behavior, even now, are traitors to our country in my opinion. Republicans that still support and defend Trump like Devin Nunes and want to make Fox News the purveyor of truth over and against our FBI, intelligence community and Trump’s OWN appointed Justice Department are fools and traitors as well. However, the buck rests firmly on those that voted for Trump based on lies and Russian deceptions. You failed! You were duped! You were idiots! It is your fault our government has been brought to its knees. From now on, you can either learn and do your voting homework based a good sources (not Fox News) or we can see the best of your intentions pave our way straight to Hell. LOCK HIM UP!!!

Guns and School Carnage

Yet once again our country is faced with its absolute impotency when it comes to gun violence in our schools. The NRA’s highly bought politicians on the right are jumping through the same shrill, disingenuous hoops. We can all recite their lame responses:

Our thoughts and prayers…bla, bla, bla

Mental illness…bla, bla, bla

Now is not the time…bla, bla, bla

In this case, law x would not have prevented it…bla, bla, bla

Their faces tense with a well-rehearsed, pretentious crack for the nth time while they are all too happy keep funding their campaigns with NRA money. Have they no shame?

There is no factual doubt that gun control legislation works. We have only to look at the data, per capita gun death rates between Massachusetts, Connecticut and other states with stricter gun control laws and the more gun crazy, shoot-um up, anything goes states show indisputably that these laws make a difference (not to mention the radical difference in England with much more radical gun control laws).

For 2013, the 10 states with the highest firearm age-adjusted death rates were: Alaska (19.8), Louisiana (19.3), Mississippi (17.8), Alabama (17.6), Arkansas (16.8), Wyoming (16.7), Montana (16.7), Oklahoma (16.5), New Mexico (15.5) and Tennessee (15.4).

The 10 states with the lowest firearm age-adjusted death rates were, starting with the lowest: Hawaii (2.6), Massachusetts (3.1), New York (4.2), Connecticut (4.4), Rhode Island (5.3), New Jersey (5.7), New Hampshire (6.4), Minnesota (7.6), California (7.7) and Iowa (8.0). 1

Only politicians, where facts don’t matter or money matters more, try to distract, defer and change the focus.

For example, the focus on mental health is one of the favorite cards they play with their losing hand. For no-touchy-feely folks they sure get that way about mass shootings. They see the perpetrators as victims themselves. Perhaps they are. However, when we address the issue of murderers we do not focus primarily on their unfortunate past.

Republicans are the first to tell us to build more prisons and lock them up. As a society we have decided that first and foremost murder should be against the law. We embody the deterrent of law and punishment first and foremost for the ‘crime’ of murder. We did not contemplate the psychological pathology of murderers before we made a law against murder. We made murder a crime and social conscience reinforced that law. There are still places in the world where murder does not offend the conscience.

We even have laws which go as far as to impose criminal liability on conspirators to murder. Yes, we can imprison mass gun murderers after the fact but let them buy mass quantities of weapons of war and ammunition without any effective deterrence and checks. Even further, these perpetrators find a positive relief from their woes with their socially sanctioned and blessed sacred AR-15 and massive magazines. So much so they brag about it on social media for years before they commit these atrocities. Conspirators for murder go to jail while braggarts with weapons or war are ignored.

What is more, when it comes to mass murderers with guns we seek to address their woes with mental health solutions to prevent future occurrences. First, this presupposes that enough money could be spent on programs to reorient these future offenders if we could identify them. Second, it is up to the therapists if they want to report a serious threat to law enforcement. As with client-attorney privilege, priests and confessional, patients and medical professionals there is a legal right to privileged protection and it is up to personal discretion whether or not to report a possible perpetrator. And, of course, there is the financial incentive in the case of ongoing psychological treatment. So, this is the right’s answer to prevention-not stricter gun laws which have been shown to reduce NOT eliminate gun violence and mass murder. Effectively, we send the ‘soft’ message in our response to these tragic events that mental health is key, not gun control.

If the Republicans really gave a damn about guns and mental illness, why did Trump sign a bill revoking an Obama regulation that made it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun? 2 Additionally, Trump has proposed cutting 1 trillion dollars from Medicaid.

Trump has proposed cutting Medicaid subsidies by more than $1 trillion. More than 25% of non-elderly adults with severe mental illness received medical coverage through Medicaid in 2015, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 3

Why don’t we make the background checks bullet proof including gun shows? Why don’t we fine and imprison those who do not lock up their guns when not in use in legitimate pursuits. We fine people that do not wear seatbelts. Why don’t we have a national registry of gun owners? Why are we so afraid to infringe on gun owner’s unabated rights or make it harder for them in any way to acquire and maintain a militia of weapons until their financial credit runs out?

The answer is twofold: First, we have a whole segment of society that has been brainwashed to distrust the government while they are all too willing to trust Fox News. Second, we have made guns more than simply implements of hunting or target shooting. We have made them into a symbol of power and male virility. We have made them a totem in Freud’s terms not a taboo.

Let’s take the case of MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I was never crazy about the group that seemed to me to start initially as a right-wing group but I have to admit there was a lackadaisical attitude toward drunk driving before they came along and through a concerted grass root effort they changed laws from the most regional to the national level with much stricter laws, fines, imprisonment for driving drunk. They did not tell us the drunk drivers need detox and therapy. Nor did they ban alcohol. They made it known through law and deterrence that it was not ok to drink and drive. More importantly, they made it a social taboo for people to drink and drive. No one told them that increasing the laws and penalties would not stop all drunk driving so why make the laws. They made something that many folks treated with a caviler conscience into a common sense, conscience violating behavior.

In the case of guns and mass murder we have not taken this tact. We are afraid to offend gun owners and have conjured up a whole bunch of rationalizations (bought and paid for by the gun industry) like historically recent Supreme Court decisions which counter the previous history of the Second Amendment.

The NRA has been around for a long time. It used to be an organization that focused on hunters and on training. In 1977, at the NRA’s annual meeting, activists pushed out the leadership and installed new leaders who were very intense, very dogmatic, and very focused on the Second Amendment as their cause. It was called the “Revolt at Cincinnati.” From there, the NRA and its allies waged a 30-year legal campaign to change the way the courts and the country saw the Second Amendment. And they started with scholarship. They supported a lot of scholars and law professors. They elected politicians. They changed the positions of agencies of government. They got the Justice Department to reverse its position on what the amendment meant. And then and only then did they go to court. So by the time the Supreme Court ruled, it sort felt like a ripe apple from the tree. 4

We have made gun ownership into a badge of unabated honor which must be absolutely guarded at any cost. Reason, facts and common sense can have no thread of a chance to succeed against such a sacred truth. In short, we have made drunk driving, with regard to guns, an absolute and constitutionally protected pride of every red blooded American drinker. How dare we impose any restrictions on the free right of every American to drink. If they drink and kill people we get them treatment for abusing their privilege. We ask them politely not to drink and drive even after statistically significant fatal car wrecks caused by too much alcohol consumption. For politicians that are generally trained as lawyers, you would think they would know not to make stupid fallacious arguments. To suggest that making the levels for intoxication lower would not have prevented a particular accident so therefore, we should not make the law is the height of lunacy and deceit. The idea is not to stop every drunk driver but to make an impact on some drunk drivers.

I don’t care if baseball bats were the statistical choice for mass killings, it would be simple sense to make baseball bats harder to use for devious purposes. The point is not to eliminate baseball but to make sure we as a society do not sanction, condone, look the other way when baseball bats are massively abused. I am so sick of hearing the stupid fallacy that since we cannot eliminate all gun deaths by laws and severe deterrence we should simply give up. We have a serious problem and bought and paid for Republicans have no answer. Only when we recognize that and quit electing them will we have a chance to crawl out of this tragic quagmire. Whether they accept responsibility for their indolence or not we as voters must accept the ultimate responsibility for this anemic and inadequate avoidance which kills kids by far more than all the terrorists attacks on American soil have ever done.

 _________________
Note 1
Gun Laws, Deaths and Crimes
Note 2
Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses
Note 3
Donald Trump Blamed the Florida School Shooting on Mental Illness. Here’s What He’s Done on the Issue
Note 4
The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say What You Think It Does
This is an interview with the author of “The History of the Second Amendment: A Biography” by Michael Waldman. This book is a very good read. It is thorough and will give you a real sense of the history of the 2nd Amendment instead of the Fox News, NRA sponsored cliff notes we have come to assume. At Amazon the hard cover is here:
The Second Amendment: A Biography

Thoughts and Prayers Funded by the NRA…

Candidate

Party

State

Office

Total

For

Against

Results

Ads

Clinton, Hillary

D

President

$19,756,346

$265

$19,756,081

Lost

Trump, Donald

R

President

$11,438,118

$11,438,118

$0

Winner

Ross, Deborah

D

NC

Senate

$5,587,233

$0

$5,587,233

Lost

Kander, Jason

D

MO

Senate

$2,504,340

$0

$2,504,340

Lost

Bayh, Evan

D

IN

Senate

$2,447,487

$0

$2,447,487

Lost

Masto, Catherine Cortez

D

NV

Senate

$2,422,829

$0

$2,422,829

Winner

Murphy, Patrick

D

FL

Senate

$2,290,375

$0

$2,290,375

Lost

Strickland, Ted

D

OH

Senate

$1,588,355

$0

$1,588,355

Lost

Rubio, Marco

R

FL

Senate

$1,008,030

$1,008,030

$0

Winner

Portman, Rob

R

OH

Senate

$731,400

$731,400

$0

Winner

Burr, Richard

R

NC

Senate

$710,629

$710,629

$0

Winner

Blunt, Roy

R

MO

Senate

$600,954

$600,954

$0

Winner

Young, Todd

R

IN

Senate

$440,645

$440,645

$0

Winner

Johnson, Ron

R

WI

Senate

$396,121

$396,121

$0

Winner

Feingold, Russ

D

WI

Senate

$254,313

$0

$254,313

Lost

Smucker, Lloyd

R

PA

House

$215,786

$215,786

$0

Winner

Shelby, Richard C

R

AL

Senate

$167,441

$167,441

$0

Winner

Kennedy, John

R

LA

Senate

$153,893

$153,893

$0

Winner

Grassley, Chuck

R

IA

Senate

$113,785

$113,785

$0

Winner

Poliquin, Bruce

R

ME

House

$111,194

$111,194

$0

Winner

Heck, Joe

R

NV

Senate

$106,476

$106,476

$0

Lost

Paul, Rand

R

KY

Senate

$94,556

$94,556

$0

Winner

Ayotte, Kelly

R

NH

Senate

$91,013

$91,013

$0

Lost

Cain, Emily

D

ME

House

$67,762

$0

$67,762

Lost

Comstock, Barbara

R

VA

House

$62,557

$62,557

$0

Winner

Mica, John L

R

FL

House

$59,807

$59,807

$0

Lost

Hassan, Maggie

D

NH

Senate

$48,098

$0

$48,098

Winner

Tipton, Scott

R

CO

House

$44,021

$44,021

$0

Winner

Guinta, Frank

R

NH

House

$40,923

$40,923

$0

Lost

Tenney, Claudia

R

NY

House

$39,579

$39,579

$0

Winner

Glenn, Darryl

R

CO

Senate

$37,617

$37,617

$0

Lost

Zeldin, Lee

R

NY

House

$37,551

$37,551

$0

Winner

Faso, John

R

NY

House

$36,989

$36,989

$0

Winner

Gallagher, Mike

R

WI

House

$35,312

$35,312

$0

Winner

Murphy, Christopher S

D

CT

Senate

$34,488

$0

$34,488

Mills, Stewart

R

MN

House

$34,099

$34,099

$0

Lost

Blum, Rod

R

IA

House

$31,195

$29,064

$2,131

Winner

Coffman, Mike

R

CO

House

$30,259

$30,259

$0

Winner

Katko, John

R

NY

House

$28,313

$28,313

$0

Winner

Mast, Brian

R

FL

House

$26,569

$26,569

$0

Winner

Isakson, Johnny

R

GA

Senate

$25,506

$25,506

$0

Winner

Garrett, Scott

R

NJ

House

$23,961

$23,961

$0

Lost

Tarkanian, Danny

R

NV

House

$20,216

$20,216

$0

Lost

Young, David

R

IA

House

$18,423

$18,423

$0

Winner

Hardy, Cresent

R

NV

House

$16,748

$16,748

$0

Lost

Babeu, Paul

R

AZ

House

$16,482

$16,482

$0

Lost

Boozman, John

R

AR

Senate

$16,106

$16,106

$0

Winner

Hurd, Will

R

TX

House

$15,871

$15,871

$0

Winner

Long, Wendy

R

NY

Senate

$15,184

$15,184

$0

Lost

Moran, Jerry

R

KS

Senate

$14,478

$14,478

$0

Winner

McSally, Martha

R

AZ

House

$14,072

$14,072

$0

Winner

LaHood, Darin

R

IL

House

$13,990

$13,990

$0

Winner

Goodlatte, Bob

R

VA

House

$12,508

$12,508

$0

Winner

Bacon, Donald John

R

NE

House

$12,378

$12,378

$0

Winner

McCarthy, Kevin

R

CA

House

$12,040

$12,040

$0

Winner

Denham, Jeff

R

CA

House

$10,694

$10,694

$0

Winner

Yoder, Kevin

R

KS

House

$10,285

$10,285

$0

Winner

Shuster, Bill

R

PA

House

$10,023

$10,023

$0

Winner

Joyce, David P

R

OH

House

$10,020

$10,020

$0

Winner

Knight, Steve

R

CA

House

$9,487

$9,487

$0

Winner

Hudson, Richard

R

NC

House

$9,476

$9,476

$0

Winner

Jones, Scott

R

CA

House

$9,342

$9,342

$0

Lost

Brady, Kevin

R

TX

House

$8,441

$8,441

$0

Winner

Issa, Darrell

R

CA

House

$7,656

$7,656

$0

Winner

Black, Diane

R

TN

House

$7,553

$7,553

$0

Winner

Zinke, Ryan K

R

MT

House

$6,868

$6,868

$0

Winner

Collins, Doug

R

GA

House

$6,640

$6,640

$0

Winner

Comer, James

R

KY

House

$6,242

$6,242

$0

Winner

Lankford, James

R

OK

Senate

$5,992

$5,992

$0

Winner

Murkowski, Lisa

R

AK

Senate

$5,848

$5,848

$0

Winner

Garrett, Tom

R

VA

House

$5,324

$5,174

$150

Winner

Johnson, Mike

R

LA

House

$5,223

$5,223

$0

Winner

Angelle, Scott

R

LA

House

$5,165

$5,165

$0

Chabot, Paul

R

CA

House

$5,011

$5,011

$0

Lost

Young, Don

R

AK

House

$5,001

$5,001

$0

Winner

Culberson, John

R

TX

House

$4,321

$4,321

$0

Winner

Bost, Mike

R

IL

House

$3,740

$3,740

$0

Winner

Hoeven, John

R

ND

Senate

$3,551

$3,551

$0

Winner

Walberg, Tim

R

MI

House

$3,408

$3,408

$0

Winner

Mooney, Alex

R

WV

House

$3,120

$3,120

$0

Winner

Lewis, Jason

R

MN

House

$3,119

$3,119

$0

Winner

Crapo, Mike

R

ID

Senate

$2,904

$2,904

$0

Winner

Hollingsworth, Trey

R

IN

House

$2,865

$2,865

$0

Winner

Pearce, Steve

R

NM

House

$2,818

$2,818

$0

Winner

Paulsen, Erik

R

MN

House

$2,583

$2,583

$0

Winner

Pittenger, Robert

R

NC

House

$2,447

$2,447

$0

Winner

Posey, Bill

R

FL

House

$2,436

$2,436

$0

Winner

Trott, Dave

R

MI

House

$2,435

$2,435

$0

Winner

MacArthur, Thomas

R

NJ

House

$2,312

$2,312

$0

Winner

Reed, Tom

R

NY

House

$2,273

$2,273

$0

Winner

Fareed, Justin

R

CA

House

$2,194

$2,194

$0

Lost

Stefanik, Elise

R

NY

House

$2,179

$2,179

$0

Winner

Taylor, Scott W

R

VA

House

$1,790

$1,790

$0

Winner

Dunn, Neal

R

FL

House

$1,699

$1,699

$0

Winner

Barr, Andy

R

KY

House

$1,374

$1,374

$0

Winner

Thune, John

R

SD

Senate

$1,341

$1,341

$0

Winner

Lee, Mike

R

UT

Senate

$1,174

$1,174

$0

Winner

Bennet, Michael F

D

CO

Senate

$1,042

$0

$1,042

Winner

Tacherra, Johnny

R

CA

House

$1,028

$1,028

$0

Lost

Love, Mia

R

UT

House

$1,013

$1,013

$0

Winner

Valadao, David

R

CA

House

$934

$934

$0

Winner

Rosen, Jacky

D

NV

House

$863

$0

$863

Winner

Nelson, Tom

D

WI

House

$859

$0

$859

Lost

Latta, Robert E

R

OH

House

$816

$816

$0

Winner

Renacci, Jim

R

OH

House

$816

$816

$0

Winner

Mowrer, Jim

D

IA

House

$800

$0

$800

Lost

Turner, Michael R

R

OH

House

$757

$757

$0

Winner

Degner, Kai

D

VA

House

$702

$0

$702

Lost

Griffith, Morgan

R

VA

House

$702

$702

$0

Winner

Kitts, Derek

D

VA

House

$702

$0

$702

Lost

Hartzler, Vicky

R

MO

House

$693

$693

$0

Winner

Cano, Christian

D

NC

House

$599

$0

$599

Lost

Klepinger, Robert

D

OH

House

$599

$0

$599

Lost

Mills, Thomas

D

NC

House

$599

$0

$599

Lost

Mundy, Keith

D

OH

House

$599

$0

$599

Lost

Neu, James

D

OH

House

$599

$0

$599

Lost

Christensen, Gordon

D

MO

House

$596

$0

$596

Lost

Dittmar, Jane

D

VA

House

$596

$0

$596

Lost

Heck, Thomas

R

NV

Senate

$548

$548

$0

Lost in primary

Rouzer, David

R

NC

House

$427

$427

$0

Winner

Mullin, Markwayne

R

OK

House

$361

$361

$0

Winner

Ryan, Paul

R

WI

House

$333

$333

$0

Winner

Chabot, Steve

R

OH

House

$121

$121

$0

Winner

Targeted Candidates, 2016 Cycle

2014 Election of Corey Gardner

Gardner, Cory

R

CO

Senate

$1,284,627

$1,224,692

$59,935

Winner

Targeted Candidates, 2014 Cycle