Monday, May 28, 2012


P. Schultz
May 28, 2012

“Take the loaded word "marriage" out of the idea of civil right law for legal domestic partnership; grant legal domestic partnerships; no mention of sexual orientation.

“Marriage License should be changed to Legal Domestic Partnerships; which grants same civil rights; and is completely devoid of any religious or sexual orientation connotations; and Legal Domestic Partnerships could be granted at any Civil Office; Village Hall, Town Hall, City Hall; witnessed by one; signed by two domestic partners; and notarized; and filed in Vital Statistics Records in the State where the Legal Domestic Partnership Contract was signed.

“Is that good enough??? Marriage Licenses should be obsolete; Legal Domestic Partnerships is secular and has no prejudicial language in it. OK?”

From Carol Benedict Russell, from Shelter Island, N.Y. in today’s NY Times. Makes a lot of sense to me. And if people also wanted to be “married,” they would go to their priests, ministers, rabbis, or imams and be “married.” Marriage licenses from the civil authorities would be obsolete and marriage could again be seen as a “covenant” by those who wish to view it that way.

Also, this proposal would also serve to distinguish between those who oppose same sex marriages from those who oppose same sex relationships.

Of course, the “problem” with this proposal is that it makes a lot of sense and will, therefore, be rejected by our politicians.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


P. Schultz
May 24, 2012

            As Memorial Day approaches, I find myself thinking about peace. And I wonder: Peace is a project. But is it a personal or a political project? And I am thinking or rather feeling that it is or should be a personal project. As Plato is reputed to have said: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” But the living can find peace, the peace of contemplation, the peace of friendship, the peace of prayer and redemption or rebirth.

The Presidency and Reality

The Presidency and Reality
P. Schultz
May 24, 2012

            So, I am reading this book, Brothers in Arms, about the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Bobby, and the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul. It is about how the Kennedys were obsessed with Fidel and wanted him dead. They clearly were trying to have Fidel assassinated and, it would appear, that Fidel got JFK before JFK could get Fidel – although this is not the conclusion of the book’s authors.

            Anyway, several passages made me wonder about the presidency and how it, the office that is, affects the way we look at our situation, the human situation. Time and again, the authors point out how the Republicans were responsible for goading Jack and Bobby into action against Castro by labeling them “soft” on Communism and how this affected how the Kennedys thought about the possibility of re-election in 1964.

            This may be a persuasive line of argument but to what extent does the office of the presidency itself “goad” its occupants into action? That is, to give one person as much power and prestige as is given to the president, any president, implies that this power can be used and should be used to accomplish “big things.” This pushes a person occupying that office toward not just taking action but taking big action, accomplishing big things, undertaking as Hamilton put it projects that require much effort to complete. Got a chance to “take out,” to assassinate an “enemy of the state?” Do it, by God, do it. After all, isn’t that why you have all that power? Got a chance to change the character, the political and social and economic character of the world or a sizable portion thereof? Then do it, “just do it.” After all, isn’t that why you have all that power? Got a chance to create and then subdue a “New Frontier,” or create a “New Deal,” or create a “Great Society?” Then do it, “just do it.” After all, this is why you were given all the power you possess!

            Believe it or not, some of those who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788 were aware of this aspect of the proposed presidential office and thought it less than desirable. As Patrick Henry said during the Virginia ratifying convention, the presidency had “an awful squinting; it squit[ed] in the direction of monarchy.” And for Henry, this office would be part of a “splendid government,” one like the governments that then controlled Europe and undertook to do great things by means of institutions geared for action and/or war. As Henry put it then, this was actually a new language for America and Americans. For in its youth, Henry said, America and Americans spoke the language not of a splendid government accomplishing great things but of individual liberty. And this just might be a distinction we would do well to reconsider.

The Politics of Death

The Politics of Death
P. Schultz
May 24, 2012

“The American drone strikes are immensely unpopular in the country and have caused increasing friction between the two countries. While the United States views the unmanned aircraft as vital in the fight against militants, the drones are seen as a breach of national sovereignty that also cause civilian deaths.

“Politicians across the political spectrum have been unanimous in their criticism of the unmanned aircraft. “

NY Times, May 24, 2012

Gee, go figure. The Pakistanis don’t like us bombing their country. Can you imagine what would happen here were, say, China or Mexico to bomb our country? But we don’t get it at all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brooks and Political Analysis

Brooks and Political Analysis
P. Schultz
May 15, 2012

            Today in the New York Times, David Brooks argues in his column that (a) Obama should be taking it on the chin in this campaign but (b) he is not, so (c) Brooks can’t figure out why, and (d) he posits that the voters are being “charmed” – somewhat – by Obama’s personality.

            So, there you have it: In the midst of one of the most intense moments in American political history, if Obama wins the election, we can “blame” it on the people who, apparently, aren’t aware or angry enough to vote on the basis of something other than personalities or other trivial factors. This seems to me to be Brooks’ analysis. And we are supposed to take it seriously.

            Well, here is an alternative take: The Republicans, whom Brooks does not mention once in his column, don’t want to win this election. That is, those who are the established leaders of the Republican Party would rather “lose” this election, have Obama elected, than to have one of their own elected because such a victory would threaten their control of the Republican Party. Obama represents no threat at all to these Republicans, whereas the insurgents in the Grand Old Party do. Ergo: Lose the election, thereby helping to suppress the insurgents and the insurgency, and come back four years later [2016] with a candidate more acceptable to these established Republicans. This is what happened in 1996 when the Republicans ran Bob Dole who was almost sure to lose to Clinton. Then they could pretend they wanted to impeach and remove Clinton from office – sure they did – thereby setting up what looked like a slam dunk in 2000 with Shrub against Al Gore. They almost blew that one; in fact they did, only to be saved by the Supremes.

            But hey: Why not stick to the old saw that berates the people as unintelligent voters? After all, this myth helps to cover up the machinations going on within the Republican Party – and which are an all too common feature of our political order.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Classics:" Who Cares?

The “Classics:” Who Cares?
P. Schultz
May 14, 2012

            An interesting phenomenon: Those who claim to care most about the “classics,” those often called “the neo-cons,” who allegedly have been influenced by the likes of Leo Strauss and his students, rarely, if ever, use the language of the classics such as Plato and Aristotle. What do I mean by this? Well, Plato/Socrates and Aristotle did not use terms like “realist” or “idealist,” “liberal” or “conservative,” “socialist” or “capitalist,” but rather used terms like “democrat” or “oligarch.” And not only did they use this language but they thought that this language got to the heart of the human condition, which was a political condition.

            The most basic, the most important, the most illuminating facts about human beings were political because the political was the most important “variable” of the human condition. Hence, they viewed the world as characterized by political contests. For Aristotle, these contests are most commonly between democrats and oligarchs, not as, say, economic contests, that is, contests between those advocating “socialism” and those advocating “capitalism.” If the classics were correct, then viewing the world through such categories as “socialism” versus “capitalism” or even “liberals” versus “conservatives” distorts what I like to call “real reality.” And not only does such language distort but it also may be said to hide what is really going on; it hides the real contests. Such language turns political contests into, say, economic contests, thereby potentially and perhaps even deliberately blurring the fact that at bottom such language allows the oligarchs to rule. But they rule not as “oligarchs;” rather, they rule as “economists,” as “realistic capitalists” and not as “idealistic socialists.” And, similarly, some rule as “policy experts,” whether that expertise is economic, militaristic, religious, or educational, thereby blurring further the most basic forms of rule, e.g., monarchic, aristocratic, democratic, or oligarchic. It is as if those who make policy, political policy, do not have any politics in the classic sense at all!

            As a side note, perhaps it was this that led Leo Strauss, a Jew, to reject his early leanings toward Zionism and to assert, eventually, that Zionism was not and could not be a solution to or resolution of “the Jewish situation.” Analogously, this would be like saying that neither “socialism” nor “capitalism” represent or could represent a solution to or a resolution of “the human condition” because such a solution or resolution must be political, that is, insofar as this is possible at all. Such solutions or resolutions must deal with democrats and oligarchs and not, say, with Jews and non-Jews or with socialists and capitalists. Insofar as solutions or resolutions are not political just so far are they not viable. Or to put this differently, “trickle down economics” will never, can never satisfy democrats or the democratic longings that characterize human beings at all times and in all places, just as what is called “socialism” will never, can never satisfy oligarchs or the oligarchic longings common to human beings at all times and in all places.  

            Every so often, perhaps, the truth of the classic view is visible, even in our modern, that is, non-classic, world. Thus, today in the United States [and elsewhere] there is an anger that is palpable and it will not be allayed by the talk of the economists. That is, the economists – most – tell us that a “bailout” was necessary to get us out of our current quagmire but, still, people are angry. Are they, the people, engaged in what my mother use to call “cutting off your nose to spite your face?” Perhaps. But more likely they are infuriated by policies that reward those who are responsible for our current situation, policies that will make these oligarchs even richer than they already are. This is offensive, highly offensive, to democratic sensibilities, to those longings for democracy that are inherent in human beings even in our thoroughly modern world. And it is these longings, I would argue, that make those called “the Austrian economists” appealing today. It is not their economics but rather the political implications of their economics that makes them appealing today.

            But to return to the beginning here, why is it that those who claim to take the classics seriously do not use the language the classics used? Why is it, for example, that they are willing to look at the world through a prism of “a clash of civilizations,” that is, through a prism that sees the world as divided between Christians and non-Christians or Muslims and non-Muslims, just as once they were willing to see the world as divided between Communists and non-Communists? Well, if the classics tell us anything, they tell us that this is about rule. Such visions of the world empower some and disempower others. Human beings prefer ruling to being ruled and they are willing to construct “reality” to serve this preference. But until or unless they come to grips with those basic facts of the human condition – as Plato/Socrates and Aristotle did – they are bound to fail. What is worse is that they are bound to fail while being oppressive and letting blood run through the streets. But don’t believe me: Just consult your Machiavelli who saw all of this and embraced “modernity” nonetheless.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just A Question

Just a Question
P. Schultz
May 13, 2012

            Hey, here is a question that has occurred to me: How is it that in this nation, the NY Times can run an article about the growing strength, allegedly, of the Tea Party insurgency in the Republican Party while at the same time after the President of the United States comes out in favor of gay and lesbian marriage the Republicans try to change the subject? I guess, more generally, the question is: Whither are we tending?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Romney and Religion

Romney at Liberty University
P. Schultz
May 12, 2012

“The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate.  It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with.  Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.”

            These are a few of words that Mitt Romney spoke at Liberty University in his highly anticipated commencement address there today, May 12, 2012.  Interesting that Romney finds it “odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem” because some of our leading statesmen did not find this odd at all. Thomas Jefferson did not find this odd at all, convinced as he was that even the gospels needed editing in order to be rendered “safe.” How did Jefferson edit them? Well, he removed all references to Jesus as the son of god, thinking that this would help avoid those theological disputes that had caused so much bloodshed in Europe during the 100 Years War(s). Also, he collapsed the four gospels into one, removed all miracles, and at the end had Jesus die – without the benefit of a resurrection! This is not minor stuff, to say the least. Jefferson even implied that some religions taught that some human beings were intended to rule other human beings without their consent, being entrusted apparently with such a position by some connection with an almighty.

            Also, James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution and a resident living fairly close to where Liberty University now sits, argued that religion, so far from offsetting the inherent tendency toward majority tyranny that infects all republics, was as likely to promote as to discourage such a tyranny. And Madison, when president, went out of his way not to proclaim religious holidays or to support religion in any especially open or official ways.

            And it is fair to say that Romney’s claim that “Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government” would not apply to either Jefferson or Madison, both of whom were proponents of a government far smaller and less authoritative than even Romney supports! Jefferson undertook to radically remake the government the Federalists tried to establish and Madison continued his, Jefferson’s, agenda.

            Why is this important? First, because our politicians owe us honesty. When they engage in myth-making as Romney is doing here to support a particular agenda, they do us a disservice. Second, because by speaking like this, Romney obscures an important political issue, viz., the status of religion, at least of organized and revealed religion. He is pandering but, what is worse, he doesn’t even know he is pandering. He thinks his history is accurate and so he goes merrily on his way down a primrose path unaware of any of the pitfalls that mark that path. We really should expect more from our “leaders.”  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Politics and the Gays and Lesbians

Politics and Gays and Lesbians
P. Schultz
May 7, 2012

            So, serious question: Why is it our politicians, like Obama in this instance, think it is necessary to “play games” with issues like gay and lesbian marriage? I mean, come on, do these guys really, genuinely think that people will or will not vote for them over such a marginal issue? I don’t mean it is marginal to everyone but just to most people.

            This doesn’t make any sense to me. So I wonder: what is really going on? And here is what I come up with. This is a way to distract us from the real issues, that is, the issues that really matter to people like who is getting screwed by whom. Not “screwed” in a sexual sense but in a political sense. If issues like this are kept alive, then we the people become distracted from the more important issues, such as, who or which class is controlling our political order. So, politicians like Obama keep this issue alive by spouting such bullshit as “My views are evolving!” And they are helped in this endeavor by “conservatives” who pretend to think that this issue has not already been decided or will be in a very short time. “Hey, let’s fight about the gays and lesbians! After all, that will keep the people distracted from the fact that we are screwing them royally.” Yeah, that’s it. More smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

John Edwards and Politics

John Edwards and Politics
P. Schultz
May 2, 2012

            Reading about the John Edwards trial, I could not help thinking that these people, that is, the people who rise to the top of our society, are soulless. They have no souls. And then I thought about Obama’s announcement that he had reached some kind of deal with regard to Afghanistan. And I thought: “Gee, what about those families and survivors of those who have been killed in Afghanistan? And I meant both American families and Afghan families. Do we all now breathe a sigh of relief and say: ‘It’s over!’” Not a glimmer of shame from Obama, not a glimmer. Can one have a soul if one cannot feel shame at having sent so many to their deaths for what is apparently no reason at all? I don’t think so.

            I think this is what No Country for Old Men is about: soullessness. So at the outset of the book, Sheriff Bell witnesses the execution of a man who has no soul. And, of course, Sheriff Bell quits because he is fearful that he is losing his soul.  This seems to me to be a really frightening prospect or predicament. What happens to human beings who are soulless? I wonder.