Month: July 2014

Has the Jefferson statehood movement stalled?

That was the narrative coming off this series of votes, which saw a union-backed opposition defeat the referendum in Del Norte County, even though the one in Tehama County passed.

The Shasta County supervisors voted down a Jefferson proposal last month too, but according to this letter in the Redding Record-Searchlight, the room wasn’t happy about it:

I went to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning and was very disappointed. The room was standing room only with supporters in favor of the State of Jefferson. Those in favor outnumbered opponents 7-to-1. The supervisors who voted against supporting the State of Jefferson movement said they haven’t seen any proof that such a state would be economically viable. How do you explain in three minutes something as complicated as dividing a state into two separate states?

This Tuesday, Sutter County’s board of supervisors is expected to adopt a resolution in support of Jefferson secession:

Interesting discussion was held by the Sutter Supervisors on Tuesday, July 8th, who all stated their frustration with the State of California and said they support the 51st State of Jefferson project. But the supervisors decided to write their own resolution regarding withdrawal from the state. So it will be during their July 22nd Board meeting, when they will finalize a resolution with a vote.

According to this article, the board is unanimous:

Each board member told the room packed with State of Jefferson advocates on Tuesday they supported withdrawal of North State counties from the rest of California.

So, no, it doesn’t really look like things have stalled at all.


Sacred Harp 39t: ‘Detroit’

The song used in this awesome scene from the John Hillcoat/Nick Cave collab “Lawless”:
Do not I love Thee, Oh my Lord?
Behold my heart, and see,
And turn each cursed idol out,
That dares to rival Thee.

Do not I love Thee from my soul?
Then let me nothing love;
Dead be my heart to ev’ry joy
When Jesus cannot move.

Thou know’st I love Thee, dearest Lord,
But Oh I long to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love Thee more.

Buzzfeed and the War Party

My latest at TheDC:

Ben Smith appears to have been convinced by one of the neoconservatives’ top operators that neoconservative is no longer a useful label, and has now endorsed that person’s replacement term. Quite a trick, isn’t it? Imagine Lila Rose convincing the Associated Press to start using “pro-life” again and you’ll get a sense of the journalistic malfeasance at work.

Jamie Weinstein, Funniest Celebrity in Washington, sticks his fingers in his ears and doesn’t seem to like that I mentioned his friends.




Mottes and Mottes and Mottes

The skillful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skillful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skillful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skillful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always skillful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skillful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.

-Tao teh Ching, 27

In a very interesting and thoroughly harmless essay, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex introduces what is to us, a very important concept. That is, the Motte-and-Bailey doctrine. Rhetoric has many tactics, some deceptive, some forthright, some effective, and some foolhardy. Properly speaking, Motte-and-Bailey is itself based on a rhetorical technique, like ‘shoot the moon’ (where you ask for something you know you won’t get in order to retreat to a position more favorable than you could ask for outright) or most forms of strategic retreat. Motte-and-Bailey however takes this idea to another level by repeatedly strategically advancing whenever it can.

To imagine this in other terms, imagine the MPAA really did want to be able to charge whenever a song anywhere was played, no matter how long, no matter the medium.


The conflict of individual against community

Andrew Sullivan, acting a bit more of a spin doctor than usual after reading Mark Lilla’s sobering piece on the modern political context we live in, declared an empathic victory in the name of individual freedom earlier this week, calling modern America a nation of libertarians in an acid-laced bit of wankery the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Windsor decision – or his recent compensatory tirades on manliness, depending on your view of wankery. Money shot (because he’s too much a coward to say it himself):

The core idea of this post-ideological new age was simply expanding the freedom of the individual – and it was embraced economically by the right, socially by the left, and completely by the next generation of pragmatic liberaltarians.

The blather on display here is incredibly detached, and fails to seriously take into consideration that individual freedom has not been triumphant, but in fact contracting more than it has been expanding thanks to government and corporate interests.  But to discuss that at length would be a hindrance, and any response would likely be apathetic.

Instead, let us focus on the core problem Sullivan attempts to address in the post: The matter of foreign policy in response to this development, as well as the loss of hegemony following the quixotic crusades that were Iraq and Afghanistan. In fairness, Brooks’ calls for a return to worshiping the American Dream and the glory that is the nation’s “exceptionalism” (a word which people tend to forget was coined by Stalin as an insult) comes off as dense and paranoiac. It shows him clinging to the old parameters of which the world existed, a time that barely has meaning now. But to call Sullivan’s own response nonsense would be a bit of an understatement:

But there is another, saner response to this, and Lilla points the way. It is to re-exercize the intellectual muscles that created and then defended the idea of democratic capitalism – and to use them, first of all, to address the democratic deficits in our own too-often bought-and-paid-for republic, to build and defend intermediate institutions that check individualism’s acidic power – families, churches, neighborhoods, school-boards, sports leagues, AA meetings. And so we match gay freedom with gay marriage and military service, embracing libertarianism but hitching it to institutions that also connect it to the community as a whole.

To start with, where does Lilla even mention this, other than in a vague hint about the potential of reactionary right with the parable of the golem? Even then, he was more making a point than suggesting a solution. Also, what that has to do with foreign policy is beyond anyone’s imagination.

Sullivan’s extrapolation seems more a desire to display his Thatcherite paternalism than anything functional, for many of his suggestions are institutions designed to strangulate individuality. The military are specialists in this line of business: Nothing strips away individual freedom more than being trained against nature into becoming an efficient killing machine. Yet families, churches, any community-style organization are also capable of undermining the independence of the individual.

But then, that’s the point of a community, and therein lies the modern conflict that Sullivan fails to appreciate.

Two cheers for exit-as-threat, or dialectical lumpenconservatism

I sure hope Elias Isquith is right about this:

… the Tea Party’s philosophy of government (again, as understood by Salam) has embedded within it an aversion to basic democratic principles that goes far beyond a typical contempt for Washington, politicians and pundits. … He’s describing a childish and essentially anti-political belief that a return to an Articles of Confederation-style U.S. order — in which each state is more of a sovereign unto itself than a member of a larger American whole — will produce 50 mini-nations where everyone basically agrees.

It’s strange to me that someone would object to a pluralistic world in which he could wait months for medical procedures in Bennington while I stock up on assault weapons in Sedona. Call it a patchwork, or an archipelago, whatever you call it we’re dealing with an ambi-ideological concept. Anyway, it must be crushed:

If the basic, irresolvable questions of identity that each generation must answer for itself — What do we value? Whom do we respect? What do we want from each other? What do we demand of ourselves? — are no longer contested, then, really, what’s the point? Just appoint a CEO of State for life, a charismatic technocrat to make sure the trains are running on time, and be done with it.

That isn’t a bad suggestion, but perhaps he doth protest too much. See, it’s not dictatorship he finds so distasteful, it’s that people could peaceably agree to disagree about those questions he says are “irresolvable.” Almost, you know, the opposite of a dictatorship. I asked him on Facebook what he thought about the Hawaiian independence movement, which despite containing the only significant royalist sentiment in America today, is generally supported by the academic left because of its anti-colonial sympathies. I haven’t gotten an answer yet.